Jimmy Tucker dead at 80
Jimmy Tucker

RENOWNED singer Jimmy Tucker passed away peacefully at his home in Fayetteville, Georgia, Tuesday morning. He was 80 years old.

Tucker’s wife of 53 years, Janet, confirmed his death.

“Jimmy passed away this (Tuesday) morning at home surrounded by family,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

According to his widow, the singer’s health had seen a slight decline in recent times.

Janet Tucker remembers her late husband as vibrant and full of energy, and someone who wanted to make a positive difference.

She also hailed him as a patriot.

“His thoughts were of Jamaica, period. He was a reflection of the patriotic ideals... He was steeped in the positive ideals of nationhood. He was a patriot and a Caribbean man.”

Tucker’s son, James, also hailed his father’s nationalistic outlook.

“He was all about Jamaica and wanted every Jamaican to reach their full potential. He always highlighted the greatness of our country to the world,” he said. “His heart was in Jamaica. He went around and talked to the kids in schools; he sang for them. He realised the heritage, the legacy, and he wanted people to know the potential that lies within them,” the younger Tucker noted.

Jimmy Tucker was one of Jamaica’s early child stars. He became a household name performing patriotic songs which instilled national pride.

In a recent interview with the Observer, Tucker beamed with national pride as Jamaica approached its 60th year of Independence on August 6.

“There is a national pride to us. We have come a far way... and we have more ground to cover; we must not shy away from it. We must ensure we have a proper graceful understanding of who we are as a people... We have a great footstep to make going forward,” he said.

Impresario Tommy Cowan hailed Tucker for his contribution.

“Before they started making records, Jimmy Tucker used to actually go to the radio stations and sing from the radio station on the microphone there. He used to attend the Lyndhurst Methodist Church and he was the ‘Boy Wonder’, and did this famous version of the Lord’s Prayer... He was Jamaica’s first singing star... He was considered as a patriot. He did a lot of patriotic songs. He shared the stage with Nat King Cole, and many of the greats heard him and thought this was the next big thing, as a black man. He was also a Christian and had strong personal views on race and politics. He’s the voice of the national anthem,” Cowan added.

Tucker emerged in the 1940s from Trench Town in Kingston from a talented family. He is uncle to former child star-cum-preacher Junior Tucker and singer Sharon Tucker. He is also uncle to Marlon Tucker, Jamaica’s most successful cricket captain.

During the 1950s, Jimmy Tucker performed in clubs, schools and churches. During that period, he performed music written by Clyde Hoyte, including Have Faith and Sweet as a Dream.

In January, Tucker was one of 10 recipients of the Musgrave Medal Award at a virtual event. He received a silver medal and was lauded as Jamaica’s first singing sensation.

Jimmy Tucker is also survived by son Jonathan, and daughter Carla Duncan.

Brian Bonitto

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