Tucker, Johnny -& Kid Ramos & The All Stars-
75 And Alive
Born in Fresno, California, Johnny Tucker picked cotton and cut grapes as a member of a huge sharecropping family of 18. He got his start singing along with his father, who played guitar and sang in a low, talking style. Also drawn to percussion, Tucker played a mean set of pots and pans, even getting his first gig playing them! Before long, he graduated to a real drum set and his father gave the ultimatum of choosing either cotton or music, but not both. Tucker chose music, and would bring home his earnings from the local roadhouse to help support the large family. A move to Los Angeles in 1964 created new in opportunities to expand his performing skills. After meeting James Brown in Nashville in 1965, Tucker tried to sign everything Brown put out, and did that with his band for years. His big break came when veteran blues guitarist Phillip Walker (Clifton Chenier) brought him into his band on drums. Walker's wife, Bea, taught Tucker a lot about singing and Walker taught him the music business. He remained with Walker for decades, valuable for his drumming and ability to sing harmonies at the same time. Tucker played drums and sang harmony on parts of Phillip's acclaimed album, The Bottom of the Top, notably on a 1970 remake of Walker's classic '59 Elko rocker "Hello My Darling." It wasn't until 1997 that Tucker made his recording debut as a front man. He and James "Broadway" Thomas shared a 1997 disc, Stranded, on the HMG label that was co-produced by Bruce Bromberg and the singers themselves. Then he met HighJohn Records president Auerbach, a restaurateur by trade whose father, Art Auerbach, ran San Francisco's famous Jazz Workshop during the '50s and '60s, at the Long Beach Blues Festival.