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Subject: Ben Tucker, jazz musician, killed in car crash

Written By: Philip Eno on 06/05/13 at 8:19 am

Jazz musician Ben Tucker, who performed with the likes of Quincy Jones and Peggy Lee, has been killed in a car crash in Savannah, Georgia, aged 82.

He was driving a golf cart across a road when a car hit him at high speed, a police spokesman said.

A 52-year-old man from Texas has been charged with racing, vehicular homicide and reckless driving.

Tucker, who played the double bass, was one of Savannah's best-known working musicians for four decades.

He made his living playing his instrument - which he named Bertha and claimed was 240 years old - in a variety of settings, from jazz festivals and nightclubs to wedding receptions.

"One of the most interesting things about playing with Ben was he was so beloved by so many people in Savannah,'' said Howard Paul, a jazz guitarist who played and recorded with Tucker for more than 20 years.

"You could count on being interrupted at least three times in a song because Savannahians would walk up and shake his hand while we were playing.''

Before he moved to Georgia, Tucker had some success as a songwriter - most notably with the track Comin' Home Baby, co-written with jazz vocalist Bob Dorough.

It went on to be recorded by Mel Torme, Herbie Mann and, more recently, Michael Buble.

By the end of the 1960s, Tucker had performed and recorded with such jazz greats as Dexter Gordon and Buddy Rich.

Julius Hornstein, who worked with Tucker for years in organising the Savannah Jazz Festival, said the musician took excellent care of himself.

Tucker, he added, had been regularly employed to play Sunday brunch at a Savannah hotel, where he had also been scheduled to perform on the night of his death.

"He was a working musician right to the end," Hornstein said. "He was so instrumental in the music life of Savannah."

Police said the crash remained under investigation and that the driver was being held without bail.

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