Jazz pianist Bob Lucas, who played with such musicians as Dave Brubeck and Dinah Shore, died July 4 of leukemia at Palm Drive Hospital in Sebastopol. He was 60.
Lucas began playing piano at the age of 3. By the time he was 5, he was performing on local radio in Miles City, Mont.
He discovered jazz when his father invited Louis Armstrong to stay at the family hotel after other hotels refused to rent a room to the black musician.
Lucas passed up a scholarship at the New York Light Opera Co. for a life as a jazz musician. He came to California in 1968, playing at clubs in the San Francisco area. In the late 1970s, he took over the foundering Russian River Jazz Festival and brought it back to life in a few years.
Lucas was well-known for his charity work, playing at benefit events for AIDS and cancer, and dropping by nursing homes to play.
Two weeks before his death, Lucas delivered his final performance with Eddie Fisher in San Francisco while battling a 102-degree fever. “Dateline NBC” filmed the piece to document Fisher’s attempted comeback.
Lucas is survived by three daughters, a son, two brothers, a sister and six grandchildren.