Tommy Tucker

Photo of Tommy Tucker
  • Birth Name

    Gerald Duppler
  • Born

    May 18, 1908
    Souris, North Dakota
  • Died

    July 13, 1989 (age 81)
    Sarasota, Florida

Best re­mem­bered for his 1941 hit record­ing I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire,” Tommy Tucker was one of the most suc­cess­ful Mickey Mouse” or­ches­tra lead­ers of his day. His par­tic­u­lar brand of slow dance mu­sic, aimed at the ho­tel ball­room au­di­ence, kept him at the top of his pro­fes­sion for nearly thirty years.

Tucker grad­u­ated from the University of North Dakota in 1929 with a de­gree in mu­sic. He formed his first band, Tommy Tucker and His Californians, that same year. The group made sev­eral record­ings, with Tucker on vo­cals, be­fore dis­band­ing in the mid-1930s. In 1935, Tucker formed a new or­ches­tra which quickly be­came pop­u­lar on the ho­tel and ball­room cir­cuit. The new band also found work on var­i­ous ra­dio pro­grams, in­clud­ing Fibber McGee and Molly in 1936-37, George Jessel’s pro­gram in 1938, and NBCs Pot O’Gold. Vocalists in­cluded Amy Arnell, Don Brown, Kerwin Sommerville, and a vo­cal group­ing var­i­ously known as The Voices Three, The Voices Four, or even the Voices Five.

In 1944, Tucker at­tempted to put to­gether a swing out­fit. To help make the tran­si­tion, he hired arrangers Van Alexander, Claude Hopkins, and Fred Norman. The ex­per­i­ment was a fail­ure, and a year later he was back play­ing for the ho­tel crowd. His or­ches­tra of the 1950s in­cluded sax­o­phon­ist Gerry Mulligan and singer Eydie Gorme.

Tucker re­tired from the mu­sic busi­ness in 1959. He spent a year teach­ing high school English in New Jersey be­fore ac­cept­ing a po­si­tion as Assistant Professor of Music at Monmouth College. He later be­came Dean of the Music Department. He re­tired in 1978 and spent his re­main­ing years in Florida.

Aside from lead­ing his or­ches­tra, Tucker ran a home fur­nish­ing store and founded the Tommy Tucker School of Music. He also owned his own song pub­lish­ing com­pany. Tommy Tucker died in 1989.

Music

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  • I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire
    Tommy Tucker (Amy Arnell), Okeh (1941)
  • I Said No
    Tommy Tucker (Amy Arnell), Okeh (1941)

All recordings are from the Internet Archive's 78rpm collection. Copyright owners, please see our removal policy.