He opened Stardust Ballroom on Sunset
Los Angeles-based bandleader and club owner Orrin Tucker, who scored a nationwide hit with “Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!” in 1939, died April 9 of natural causes in the San Gabriel Valley. He was 100.
The St. Louis-born saxophonist formed his eponymous big band in 1933 and also served as its primary vocalist until Louis Armstrong reportedly advised him to recruit singer Wee Bonnie Baker. With Baker as a featured player, the band contemporized 1917 hit “Oh Johnny!” and achieved national prominence. All told, Tucker’s band cut more than 70 records, including theme song “Drifting and Dreaming,” and Tucker continued performing into the 1990s.
In the mid-1970s, Tucker opened the Stardust Ballroom in an abandoned ice-skating rink on Sunset Boulevard after appearing in the 1975 TV movie “Queen of the Stardust Ballroom.” Tucker’s band stood as the venue’s main attraction until he left the club in 1982, after which it hosted key early performances from such fledgling L.A. acts as the Go-Gos and Guns N’ Roses.
Tucker is survived by his wife, a daughter and a grandson.