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The Scamps' Rusty Tucker Dies

Orestie "Rusty" Tucker died last week at the age of 80 after a brief illness. A singer, drummer, and trumpeter, Tucker was a member of the Tim Whitmer K-C Express band, and played with a number of other groups in Kansas City. But Tucker was probably best known for his work with the Scamps, a group he joined in the late 1970s. The Scamps are considered Kansas City's version of the New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band.

By Laura Spencer and Sylvia Maria Gross


Kansas City, MO – A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Rusty Tucker got his start playing trumpet after he graduated from high school in variety shows at state fairs. When he moved to Kansas City, he played with the house band at the Orchid Room at 12th and Vine. He later switched to drums for the steady work. Tucker was known for his wide smile, and as a vocalist he was considered a Louis Armstrong sound-alike on his signature song What a Wonderful World.

A visitation and memorial celebration service was held in Rusty Tucker?s honor on Saturday at Unity Temple on the Plaza. He leaves behind his wife of 30 years, Diane, two daughters, one son, two stepdaughters, nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
Sylvia Maria Gross is storytelling editor at KCUR 89.3. Reach her on Twitter @pubradiosly.
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