Childers, who died Thursday from complications of cancer, was 16 years old when he landed a spot in the Kenton band, The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.
Big bands were a mainstay of Childers' career, which included playing with notables such as Benny Carter, Les Brown and Woody Herman. Often he was the band's lead trumpet, requiring him to provide the main melodic line as well as playing louder and higher than others, the Times reported.
During the 1980s, Childers was musical director for Frank Sinatra Jr. and accompanied Sinatra Jr. when he was asked to lead the Frank Sinatra orchestra.
In 1993, Childers left the Sinatras to form his own band, continuing to perform for years. In 2005 he finished his last, still unreleased CD, "Haunted Ballroom," his son, Jeffrey, told the Times.