Sturgis started on piano at age five and played alto saxophone, guitar and drums in addition to bass. He primarily played double-bass, although he played electric bass on some recordings late in life. He played with Roy Eldridge and Eddie Mallory in New York City in the 1930s, and appears on a 1943 Eldridge recording for Brunswick.
He then worked as a sideman in the 1940s with, among others, Benny Carter, Don Byas, Stuff Smith, and Louis Armstrong. He was a frequent accompanist of female singers such as Billie Holiday, Mildred Bailey, and in Earl Hines' orchestra with Sarah Vaughan.
In the 1950s and 1960s Sturgis worked extensively as a freelance musician, and played often in USO events. His credits aside from bass playing include guitar with Lester Young and drums with Stuff Smith. He recorded his last dates as a leader in 1976 but continued to play into the 1980s with Spanky Davis, eventually retiring around the end of the decade.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (May 2019)
With Roy Eldridge
- What It's All About (Pablo, 1976)
- Gourse, Leslie (2009) Sassy: The Life of Sarah Vaughan, p. 21. Da Capo Press At Google Books. Retrieved 6 July 2013.
- Rye, Howard. "Sturgis, Ted (1913 - 1995), double bass player". Grove Music Online. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.j702300. Retrieved 2018-02-18.
- Campbell, Robert L.; Bukowski, Leonard J. and Büttner, Armin "The Tom Archia Discography"