When he was 19, he began to play the violin in clubs and hotels, at the tables. In 1919, he played violin in a group with two men, which would be later known big bandleaders: Abe Lyman (on drums) and Gus Arnheim (piano). The company has performed at the Sunset Inn in Santa Monica, California. In 1922 he had his first band, which for some years in St. Francis hotel in San Francisco , also played for the radio. By these broadcasts the Orchestra was great fame for KGO . In 1925 he became leader of another Orchestra on the west coast. His orchestra played in hotels across the country. His band was the first dance band which appeared in a short film, ' Hollywood Vitaphone Music Carnival nights in Paris ' (for Warner Brothers) (1927). After this film, there were numerous other short films. He also made many recordings, mainly for Victor Records. His Orchestra became nationally known by the radio and became a favorite band of veelfilmsterren that the company also hired for private performances. Among them included Clark Gable, Greta Garbo and Maurice Chevalier. In 1944 he stopped as band leader, especially since many members of the Group had to service.
In his orchestras played countless musicians and vocalists, including Red Nichols, Phil Harris and Freddie Slack. After his career as a bandleader he was among other things, for example, booking musicians for hotels. He was also in the real estate business.
Halstead was married to blues vocalist Marjorie Whitney, who sang at the King's Jesters .