|Birth: ||Feb. 17, 1911|
St. Louis City
|Death: ||Apr. 9, 2011|
Los Angeles County
Musician. A noted Big Band leader and saxophonist who had a long career with six million-selling records, he shall probably be remembered for the 1939 hit "Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!". Born Robert Orrin Tucker, he was raised in Wheaton, Illinois, and taught himself to play the saxophone as a child. He attended college intending to study medicine but after supporting himself as a part time musician decided on a career change; forming his own band in 1933 he played mostly in the midwest and originally served as his own lead vocalist. In 1938, at the suggestion of Louis Armstrong, he hired Evelyn Nelson from a venue in St. Louis, renaming her Wee Bonnie Baker; his 1939 recording of "Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!" with Baker on vocal proved to be a chart topper and made him a major attraction. Tucker's music making was interrupted by World War II during which he served as a Navy flight instructor at Pearl Harbor; after the conflict he returned to the Big Band circuit, traveling the country while using "Drifting and Dreaming" as his theme song. Over the years he made about 70 records, mostly for Columbia, his hits including "At the Balalaika", "Wishing (Will Make It So)" and "Apple Blossoms and Chapel Bells". Starting in the 1950s he gradually spent more time with his business interests though in 1959 he formed a small ensemble that played Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe for a number of years. Tucker appeared in a few movies and his 1975 turn as himself in the made-for-television "Queen of the Stardust Ballroom" led him to open his own Stardust Ballroom which he ran until 1982 in a converted Los Angeles skating rink. Continuing to perform into the 1990s, he spent his last years in a Southern California nursing home where he died of the effects of advanced age. At his death, a number of his records were available on CD. (bio by: Bob Hufford)
Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend.
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
Record added: Apr 19, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 68596839
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