What San Diego musician can claim the title of “most local airplay”? Pinback? P.O.D.? Jewel? Leonard Tucker? You many not recognize that last name, but odds are you know the voice. Here’s why: “Mossy Nissan! Mossy Nissan moves you!”
Love it or hate it, but the Mossy Nissan jingle, and Tucker’s distinctive yell at the end of the spot, is well known to most San Diegans. The 20-year-old song, in various incarnations, is broadcast locally approximately 2000 times a month on both radio and television. According to FM94.9 music director Mike Halloran, a current Top 40 radio hit gets about 10,000 plays a month nationwide.
The song was recorded in either 1988 or 1989. Details about the recording are a bit fuzzy. Tucker credits San Diego songwriter Dove Linkhorn at Powerhouse Recording Studios for writing the song.
However, Tim Hosman emails a different account. “My partner, Scott Rummell, and I wrote that little ditty many moons ago, and an L.A. session singer named Rick Riso sang it.”
Dove Linkhorn also disputes Tucker, saying he did not create the Mossy Nissan jingle. “I don’t want anyone to think I wrote it,” he says. “I was surprised when I read the story and I saw that Leonard Tucker had said that. I do all the remakes of it, though. I’ve gotten to know the jingle well. Once, we did a blues version, even a ‘lights out’ jazz version.”
Singing commercial spots is a tough way to make a living, but Tucker has a successful career as a session singer and has performed on a number of well-known jingles. His voice can still be heard crooning the tag for Smooth Jazz 98.1, and radio listeners might remember his vocals on a radio spot for Bill Howe Plumbing and a jingle for the San Diego trolley.
“I also sang the San Diego Chargers song,” says Tucker. “There are two different versions. They played mine for years, and then more recently, with the Chargers having such a phenomenal season, they went back to the original, more disco version.”
The original “Super Chargers” was recorded in 1979 by a group of session musicians under the name of Captain Q.B. and the Big Boys. Tucker’s rendition has since been retired.
Tucker, a former employee of NASSCO (National Steel and Shipyard Company), also sings with ’60s R&B soul legends the Fifth Dimension.