Ben Tucker was a well-known musician in Savannah, Georgia who stood tall with his bass he named “Bertha”, an instrument Tucker claims to be 240 years old. He arrived in Savannah in the 1970’s and played with legends like Quincy Jones, Peggy Lee, Dexter Gordon and Buddy Rich. One of Tucker’s biggest hits as a songwriter was “Comin’ Home Baby” recorded in 1961, by Mel Torme, Herbie Mann and most recently by singer Michael Buble.
Tucker was born on December 13, 1930 in Brentwood, Tennessee. Tucker and his twin brother grew up in Nashville with their parents Carrie Clayborne and Joseph Tucker. In 1946, he graduated from Pearl High School, then went on to Tennessee State University in 1949. In 1950, Tucker joined the U.S. Air Force and served for four years. In 1956, he moved to Hollywood, CA where he recorded a collaboration with William Marsh entitled “Jazz of Two Cities” three years later. His bass playing was noticed by Metronome Magazine, who named him one of the world’s top 10 bass players.
By 1972, Tucker had owned two top radio stations, WSOK-AM, which had over 400,000 listeners and WLVH-FM and was a member of the Coastal Jazz Association. Then in 1989, he opened a jazz club called Hard Hearted Hannah’s. Tucker is a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center. He was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to serve on the Selective Service Board and later reappointed by President Ronald Reagan.
Ben Tucker was tragically killed this week when his golf cart collided with 52-year-old Robert William Martin of Spicewood, Texas, who was driving a speeding car. The tragic accident occurred at the Savannah Westin Golf Club and Resort. Martin was charged with vehicular homicide, racing and reckless driving and is being held without bail. The 82-year-old was scheduled to perform that day at a hotel in Savannah, a jazz brunch he had performed for the past 13 years.
Watch video of Ben Tucker below.