Ira Tucker, Sr., lead singer of music’s longest surviving group, The Dixie Hummingbirds, died on June 24 from heart failure, in Philadelphia, PA. He was 83.
The Dixie Hummingbirds began their remarkable musical journey in 1928, in Greenville, SC, organized by the late James B. Davis. Tucker joined the gospel group in 1938 at age 13 and over the next 70 years was in the forefront as the ‘Birds soared to world acclaim.
Tucker’s unique sound mixture of gospel and blues added versatility to the group’s style, establishing them as the leading black Southern quartet. They performed across the landscapes of America and throughout Europe; toured the circuit of black churches and gospel extravaganzas; and brought audiences to their feet at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater, among other feats.
Throughout his career, Tucker wrote and recorded one masterpiece after another. Among his many accomplishments: a Grammy in 1973 for “Love Me Like A Rock;” in 2000 induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame; and in 2008 a feature-length documentary/concert film called “The Dixie Hummingbirds: Eighty Years Young.”
Tucker is survived by Louise, his wife of 65 years; son Ira Jr.; two daughters Sundray Tucker and Lynda Laurance; 5 grandchildren, and 6 great grandchildren.
Services will be held in Philadelphia on Wed. July 2 at The Met, Broad & Dixie Hummingbirds Way (Poplar Street).