Young Erik never saw his father. Captain Erik Leidzén Sr. died of pneumonia four months before Erik Jr. was born. His mother, nee Elinor Kelly, chose to remain in service as an Officer of The Salvation Army, and after various further assignments in Sweden, she was appointed to the Training College in Copenhagen. Erik was five when the family, which included two older sisters, Carin and Margaret, moved to Denmark.
At an age when most youngsters are learning to hold a pencil, Erik was writing poems and displaying an amazing aptitude for the cornet. As the youngest and at times the best musician in various Bands in which he played, including the Danish Staff Band, it was not unusual for Erik to be offered the baton, which explains his conducting the massed Bands in Congress at Copenhagen when he was only nine.
At sixteen Erik turned his back on the advantages and shelteredness of his existence to undertake the life of a seaman, which unregretted experience lasted six months. Finally, at the insistence of relatives, he applied for admission to the Royal Conservatory of Music in Stockholm. Accepted and granted a stipend, he regularly earned awards for his achievement during his study there. His mother too was now in Sweden, having been placed in command of a Salvation Army Home just outside of Stockholm.
Erik arrived in America in 1915. His early years here during and following the war were not pleasant. Music seldom affords an easy means of livelihood. And in a new land among strange people, Erik’s task of making his way and providing for his wife and daughter was further complicated by his wife’s fatal illness. Erik returned with his wife's to Sweden in 1922 where she died. He then returned to America and his daughter, Lisa. In August 1923 he married Maria.