LOUISIANA (WVUE) - An accomplished musician, prominent businessman, and ardent golfer, Verlin "Buck" Baker, Jr. passed away June 17, 2018 surrounded by his close family. Aside from his countless contributions to the Greater New Orleans area, he will be remembered most as a importantly a loving husband, a selfless father, and a friend to many.
Buck Berlin was born October 26, 1941 and was raised in Algiers. Initially, he began his music career taking clarinet lessons on Leboeuf Street in Algiers, but he soon found that saxophone was the instrument for him. Buck soon began his career in 1955 with the Syncopators. Three years later his band would merge with a group known as The Aristocrats and from that moment on The Esquires were born.
After finishing up high school at Behrman he continued to lead the Esquires throughout the late 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. The Esquires created a unique sound and aesthetic with their charisma, charm, and good tunes that could keep and audience dancing all night long. With their presence in New Orleans for almost thirty years and the loyalty of their fans they soon became one of the most admired bands in the city.
Buck's rise to the top as a prominent saxophone musician enabled him him create a wide ranging resume and many musical collaborations along the way. Including assisting Frankie Ford with his first recordings and playing with artists like Dr. John, Fats Domino, Irma Thomas, and Roland Stone. He also served as President of the New Orleans Musicians Alumni Association, a founding member and President of the Westbank Musicians Hall of Fame, and eventually became and inductee into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
In 1985, Buck became an agent for Allstate Insurance and owned his own agency before his retirement in 2005. After his retirement, he and his wife Janice moved to Ponchatoula and he enjoyed playing golf with his brother, George, who is a PGA professional.
He is survived by his wife of fifty two years, Janice Baker; his only son, Brian Michael Baker and wife, Tammy; two grandsons, Tyler Anthony Baker and Blake Matthew Baker; granddaughter, Brooke Catherine Baker; sisters, Jacqueline Chifici and husband, Frank, and Jan Esther Cogan and husband, Wayne; brother, George Baker and Sue Tranchina; brother in law, Louis Inguagiato; and many beloved nieces and nephews. Buck is preceded in death by his parents, Verlin "Jack" Baker and Floris Luft Baker.