Today's Paper Newsletters LEARNS Guide Asa Hutchinson 2024 Today's Photos Public Notices Crime Distribution Locations Obits Puzzles Digital FAQ Razorback Sports

Tuck remembered as Fayetteville icon, legend

by Ron Wood | February 4, 2015 at 3:00 a.m.
Herman Tuck died Monday at age 85.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Friends describe Herman Tuck as a rockabilly music pioneer, a successful restaurateur, a character, a local legend and a Northwest Arkansas icon.

Tuck, 85, died Monday in Fayetteville.

Tuck played drums with Ronnie Hawkins' first band in the early years of rock-and-roll; opened Herman's Rib House, a restaurant still serving steaks and ribs, on New Year's Eve 1964; and, he was friends with people from all walks of life, including leaders in industry and politics, for more than half a century.

Don Tyson, longtime head of Tyson Foods, and Tuck attended Kemper Military School together and remained friends for life.

"If there ever was an individual who could be called 'one of a kind', it was Herman Tuck," said John Tyson, Don's son and chairman of the company's board. "He was a good friend of mine, my dad's, and Tyson Foods. He will be missed by many, many people in Northwest Arkansas."

Dash Goff, a Fayetteville businessman who knew Tuck most of his life, called him a legend who loved people and music.

"He knew everybody and everybody who was anybody wandered through Herman's at one time or another, even presidents," Goff said.

Goff remembers nights when Hawkins, Tuck and Harold Pinkerton, who played guitar and died Saturday, would play at a gasoline station across Dickson Street street from Jug Wheeler's Drive-in.

"They'd unplug the Coke machine, plug in their guitar amplifiers and play in the parking lot," Goff said.

Tuck also loved playing music with a group of his buddies at the restaurant after hours.

"He used to close Herman's and they'd play in there until all hours of the night," Goff said.

When Tuck started making money off the restaurant, he didn't really know what else to do with it other than buy Tyson stock, Goff said.

"When it was worth $1 million, he had a party at Herman's," Goff recalled.

Archie Schaffer, a consultant with Tyson, met Tuck in the 1970s then got to know him better when Schaffer started attending political events in Northwest Arkansas with his uncle, former Gov. Dale Bumpers.

"He was a unique individual, a true Northwest Arkansas icon both as a restaurateur and musician," Shaffer said. "He and his wife, Irene, were well known among the leadership of Northwest Arkansas. They served great food at Herman's and he always had a good story to tell."

Woody Bassett, a Fayetteville attorney, said the photos lining the walls of the restaurant are a testament to the wide range of people Tuck knew.

"Herman was a friend to everyone, people from all walks of life went in there," Bassett said. "They ran a great restaurant. I know people who lived up here or went to school up here and moved away but when they come back, that's the first place they want to go."

According to Tuck's obituary, it didn't matter whether you were "a salesman from Fort Smith, an office employee, Don Tyson, Willie Nelson or Bill Clinton, you got the same fine treatment. There, everyone was someone important."

Tuck attended Washington Elementary School and Fayetteville High School, until his junior year, when he transferred to Kemper Military School. Growing up he worked for his grandfather at the Sinclair Gas Station at the corner of College Avenue and Spring Street.

Tuck started Herman's Ribhouse at 2901 N. College Ave. in 1964 and ran the eatery for nearly a quarter century. Bruce and P.J. Barnes ran Herman's for the next decade until Benny Spears and Shelby Rogers bought the restaurant in 2000. Spears died in 2005 and Rogers sold Herman's to longtime employees Nick and Carrie Wright in 2013.

Fayetteville District Judge William Storey said Herman's started as a tavern then Tuck and Irene started selling hamburgers and gradually added menu items until it became a very good restaurant and a place to see and be seen. Irene died Feb. 5, 2012.

"They really epitomized the American dream," Storey said. "They started with nothing, worked tirelessly every day and were ultimately very successful."

NW News on 02/04/2015

Print Headline: Tuck remembered as resturanuteur, musician and friend


Sponsor Content