He was first recorded professionally in 1919. In the 1920s he worked with several groups, but his best known work would be with Louis Armstrong. He went on to play with Sid Catlett, Roy Eldridge, and Elmer Snowden before his career declined. The end of the Big Band era and the rise of rock and roll is seen as causing the decline.
His name is often incorrectly spelled as "Gus Aitken."