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Noted Savannah jazz musician dies in crash

11:00 AM, Jun 5, 2013   |    comments
Savannah jazz musician Ben Tucker was killed on Tue., June 4, 2013 in a wreck on Hutchinson Island across from downtown Savannah. (WSAV)
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SAVANNAH, GA (WSAV) -- Famed Savannah Jazz Artist Ben Tucker was killed early Tuesday, when the golf cart he was driving was struck by a vehicle.

The collision happened at the Westin Golf Course Resort on Hutchinson Island, just across the river from downtown Savannah. Photos taken from the scene show a heavily damaged golf cart. Tucker was immediately transported for treatment from the scene, but did not survive his injuries, authorities confirm.

PHOTOS | Notable deaths in 2013
PHOTOS | Savannah musician Tucker killed in wreck

The Savannah Westin Golf Club and Resort says, "(We) are heartbroken because tucker was a part of our family here at the Westin, especially the club. So many of our staff are all in mourning for him and our thoughts and prayers are with his family." -Mark Spadoni, General Manager.

Tucker played at the Westin both as a musician and avid golfer.

According to a biographical interview with The History Makers in 2007, "Benjamin Mayor 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. He graduated from Pearl High School in 1946 and entered Tennessee State University in 1949 as a music major. In 1950, he joined the United States Air Force where he served for four years.

Tucker's love for music began at an early age. He taught himself to play the tuba at the age of thirteen and later the bass violin and piano. Some of his favorite jazz musicians include Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson. In 1956, Tucker moved to Hollywood, California, where he met Warren Marsh. His first recording was a collaboration with Marsh entitled Jazz of Two Cities in 1959. That same year, Metronome magazine named him one of the world's top ten bass players. In 1961, he recorded Coming Home Baby, a hit for Herbie Mann and Mel Torme. This song was featured in the film Get Shorty.

Tucker became Savannah, Georgia's first African American radio station owner in 1972 when he purchased WSOK Radio. WSOK was the top AM station for thirteen years. His station had over 400,000 listeners and a reputation of having integrity with its advertising. In 1989, Tucker opened Hard Hearted Hannah's, a jazz club. He was not only the owner of the club, but he also led the band six nights a week.

Over the years, Tucker served on the boards of several organizations. He was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to serve on the Selective Service Board and was reappointed by President Ronald Reagan. Tucker was asked to perform in Atlanta, Georgia for the 1996 Olympic Committee. He is also the creator of the Telfair Jazz Society in Savannah.

Tucker and his wife, Gloria, reside in Savannah, Georgia. They have two adult children, Sabra and Wayne."

(WSAV Savannah)

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