Artist Ben Tucker Killed In Vehicle Crash - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

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Honoring A Legacy - Ben Tucker: 1930-2013 - Photos, Tributes

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A photo from the scene of the accident. A photo from the scene of the accident.
Suspect Robert Martin Suspect Robert Martin

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.


Mr. Tucker will lie in state Sunday, June 9, 2013 from 2:00 - 7:00 p.m. for public viewing at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Ascension, 120 Bull Street, at Wright Square, Savannah, GA. 31401.

Funeral Service – Monday, June 10, 2013, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Ascension.

Public Jazz Concert immediately after the service - Monday, June 10, 2013, 1:00 - 8:00 p.m. at Ellis Square, Savannah, GA. (Bring the family to celebrate Ben Tucker's Legacy in Savannah, musicians & children welcome to join in this celebration.) In the event of inclement weather, the concert will be held at the Savannah Theater, 222 Bull St.

Remembrances: In lieu of flowers the Tucker family requests donations be sent to: The Ben Tucker Family Foundation, c/o The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Ascension, 120 Bull Street, Savannah, GA 31401.

Please sign our online guestbook at


Click through the video gallery above to view crash details, biographies, and tributes.

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."

The investigation into the crash continues at this hour. "Major Accident Investigation Team officers are investigating a collision of a sedan and a golf cart on Hutchinson Island this morning in which an 82-year-old Savannah man died.

Benjamin M. Tucker of an East Liberty Street address was declared dead at Memorial University Medical Center after the 11:44 a.m. crash on Resort Drive, an approach to Grand Prize of America Avenue, a former road race track on the island.

He was the single occupant of the golf cart that collided with a blue Dodge sedan driven by Robert William Martin, 52, of Spicewood, TX. Martin has been charged with racing, vehicular homicide in the first degree and reckless driving.

MAIT investigators said Martin was traveling around Grand Prize of America Roadway at a high rate of speed. Tucker was crossing Grand Prize of America Roadway from the club house to the employee parking lot when he was struck by the Chrysler 300 driven by Mr. Martin. The impact caused extensive damage to the Golf Cart and Mr. Tucker suffered fatal injuries.

The Dodge was traveling south on Resort Drive when the collision occurred at an access road to The Westin Savannah Golf Resort and Spa. Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police are continuing to investigate"


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