Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bobby Tucker R.I.P.

Pianist-arranger-accompanist Bobby Tucker died in Morristown, NJ on April 12, 2007. To the best of my knowledge there has been little or no mention of this in the press. I only learned of his death because a mutual friend of Tucker and myself tried to ring Bobby up this a.m. and was informed of his passing by a family member who answered the phone. Tucker is especially known for having been the musical director for two great jazz artists, Billie Holiday and Billy Eckstine. Both of these stints were lengthy ones, and Tucker can also be heard on multiple recordings made by the two Billie/Billy(s). A common misconception is that he was the Bobby Tucker who conducted the chorus on Frank Sinatra's acappella recordings made during the 1949 musicians' strike.

Tucker was especially sought out as an accompanist for singers and among those others he worked with were Johnny Hartman, Lena Horne, and Antonio Carlos Jobim. He was a musician's musician, so much so that there is next to no biographical information about him on the internet. Even allmusicguide only has a photo and a date of birth. But most music insiders knew Tucker or, at least, of him. To the best of my knowledge, he only made one album under his own name, 1960's "Too Tough." He was 85.

If any reader can add to this skimpy obit (of sorts) it will be greatly appreciated.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing about Bobby. He was my dads best friend and piano player for over 45 years.

He will be sorely missed by all of us.

Best,
Guy Eckstine

Anonymous said...

I met him with " B" backstage at the Blue note. Really cool cat, "B"
was a little older then , and the love Bobby showed toward "B" as he conducted the band was incredible . Bobby caught everything that "B" wanted to do . But of course that happens after working together for over 40 years.

There needs to be a tribute to Mr.Tucker for his vast musical Legacy .

My company is working on a 3-fold project about the Great Mr "B", which includes, a doucumentary , play and film.

Carl Garrison
MAG SWING

tswangin said...

Mr. Tucker married my mom, Florence Peggy's, best friend, Mary. He used to visit Grandma Alice and Grandpa Ulysses at 16 Corey Rd in Collingsville section of Morristown, NJ and laughed at following the fingering of their paper roll, self-playing piano. He could be a performer and listener at the same time. Newark Police Detective T.O., my dad and one of the originator's of the riff "Jersey Bounce" always followed and talked about the sacrifices Mr. Tucker had to make in order to follow his muse. God bless him and his family.

purple said...

I am really and deeply touched.
Thank you for talking about him.
Margherita
(Roma, Italia)

Anonymous said...

Bobby Tucker, forse il piu' grande pianista accompagnatore jazz pop della storia, nonche' impeccabile arrangiatore. Non per caso, per oltre 40 anni accanto alla massima espressione de canto jazz e jazzy: Billy Eckstine. Ma lui e Mr.B vivranno in eterno. Un suggerimento: ascoltare con sentimento MY FUNNY VALENTINE e SUMMERTIME da B.E. sing vith B.C. Sandro damiani