Joseph Robert Bruhl (December 7, 1909-October 11, 1980) was born in Plattsmouth, Nebraska and attended Mitchell High School in Lincoln, Nebraska. From the time of his first engagement to play piano at local radio station WMAH at the age of twelve, Joseph Bruhl immersed himself in music. Bruhl played in local bands, and after two years in college decided to become a professional musician. Proficient with the banjo, guitar, and piano, Bruhl traveled from the mid-1920s until the late-1930s with what were then popularly known as "territory bands." Such bands journeyed to various locales within a fixed geographic range to play for local events. Bruhl's early engagements spanned Nebraska, Wyoming, and the Dakotas, where he accompanied a series of traveling orchestras to play in ballrooms, theaters, and at other local celebrations. Such travels required long trips over unpaved roads and necessitated the acquisition of transfer passes from the Lincoln chapter of the American Federation of Musicians (Local # 463), of which Bruhl was a member. From the beginning of his career as a full-time musician, Bruhl avidly collected and preserved performance billings and other memorabilia from his travels.
From 1927 on, Bruhl's performances reached listeners across the West and Midwest on several early radio stations, including WNAX, WOW, KGHL, KFAB, and KFSO. In 1929, Bruhl married Vera Halsted, while he continued to build his career as a musician traveling with various bands. Stints playing with orchestras led by Russ Henegar and Milt Askew in the late 1920s and early 1930s preceded Bruhl's 1934 move to the San Francisco Bay area. From there he assumed his most prominent role as the piano player in Joaquin Grill's Orchestra (1935-1939). With Grill and company, Bruhl traveled even more widely, reaching as far as Lake Tahoe and several southwestern states in 1937 and 1938.
Drafted during World War II, Bruhl became the leader of an Army band unit. After the war, he returned to broadcast radio. Bruhl eventually settled in San Leandro, California, where he opened and operated a successful Fender franchise guitar school and music store in the 1950s and 1960s.