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Peanuts Hucko Dies

Peanuts Hucko, a swing and Dixieland clarinetist who spent time with Louis Armstrong and Glenn Miller among many other notable artists, died May 22 in Fort Worth, Texas. The cause of death was not specified. He was 85.

Born in Syracuse, N.Y. in 1918, Hucko began playing music as a tenor saxophonist. He played tenor in swing and sweet bands like Will Bradley and Charlie Spivak’s in the early 1940s and switched to clarinet when he joined Glenn Miller’s Army Air Force Band. With Miller Hucko was the star clarinet soloist, but soon World War II ended and Hucko joined Benny Goodman’s band, which didn’t need another clarinet star besides Goodman. So, Hucko switched back to tenor in Goodman’s band, stayed there for about a year and left to play clarinet with Ray McKinley and later Eddie Condon.

Hucko went back to Goodman in the mid-1950s for a tour of Japan and in 1957 he did Europe with a group that included Jack Teagarden and Earl Hines. A two-year stint with Louis Armstrong’s All Stars saw Hucko to end of the ’50s. In the ’60s he led a group that played regularly at Eddie Condon’s club in New York that yielded a now out-of-print LP, Live at Eddie Condon’s (Chiaroscuro). Hucko was seen by million in the 1970s on Lawrence Welk’s television program, on which he played some boisterous Dixieland.

After leading the Glenn Miller Orchestra for a while in the late ’70s Hucko moved to Denver with his singer wife, Louise Tobin, and opened his own club. The couple later moved to Denton, Texas. In 1998, George W. Bush, then governor of Texas, dedicated the first annual Texas Big Band Festival to Hucko.

Hucko is survived by his wife, two stepsons, a sister, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Originally Published