b. 17 February 1911, St. Louis, Missouri, USA. A dance band leader, saxophonist, singer, composer and lyricist, Tucker grew up in Wheaton, Illinois, and led dance bands at high school and college, while at the same time serving as altoist-vocalist for Tweet Hogan. After college he continued to lead his own band, which became very popular at hotels in the Chicago area during the early 30s. The band’s theme tune was ‘Drifting And Dreaming’. In 1936 Tucker hired a vivacious young singer, Evelyn Nelson, and changed her name to Bonnie Baker. In 1939 she provided the saucy novelty vocal on the band’s record of a 1916 song, ‘Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!’. It proved to be a smash hit, selling over a million copies, and making the band and ‘Wee Bonnie Baker’ a national attraction. The Tucker band had several other hits including ‘Wishing (Will Make It So)’, ‘Stop! It’s Wonderful’, ‘Billy’, ‘At The Balalaika’, ‘You’d Be Surprised’, ‘If I Could Be The Dummy On Your Knee’, ‘Apple Blossoms And Chapel Bells’, ‘Where Do I Go From You?’, ‘You’re The One (For Me)’, ‘Hi Neighbor’, ‘Dear Mom’, ‘She Don’t Wanna’, and Tucker’s own compositions, ‘Would’ja Mind?’, ‘My Resistance Is Low’ and ‘Pinch Me’. The band also appeared on the CBS Your Hit Parade radio show for a season, and Tucker and Baker featured in the 1941 musical film You’re The One, with Edward Everett Horton and Jerry Colonna. In 1942 Tucker volunteered for the US Navy, and after World War II he led a new band, playing top US hotels and clubs. For several months during 1955 he had his own weekly television show from the Hollywood Palladium. Shortly afterwards he became semi-retired, concentrating mostly on his business interests. During 1959 he formed a seven-piece unit and devoted the next few years to playing dates in the Lake Tahoe, Hollywood and Las Vegas areas. In 1975 he took over a ballroom on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and named it ‘The Stardust Ballroom’ after a recent television show in which he had appeared. His own band played there five nights a week, in what proved to be a successful long-term venture.
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