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‘God needed him in the choir’: Wife of beloved ‘Bucket Man’ said rhythm brought him peace

Cheryl Martin, wife of legendary Market Street drummer Larry Hunt, mourns his death in her San Francisco apartment. | David Sjostedt/The Standard

The wife of beloved street drummer, Will Smith collaborator and Market Street attraction “Drummer Man” Larry Hunt said that playing his makeshift drums brought him peace through otherwise dark times.

Hunt, a legendary Market Street fixture who played the drums on an arrangement of plastic buckets for over two decades, died at 64 years old on Thursday, Feb. 23, according to his wife, Cheryl Martin.  

Larry Hunt drums on plastic buckets at the corner of Market and Stockton streets on Dec. 9, 1999. | Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Despite rumors that Hunt had overdosed, Martin contended that he had been sober for several years, and she didn’t believe that Hunt had died from drugs. Martin said that her husband had been suffering from various illnesses. 

“I think his heart just gave out,” Martin said. “I guess God needed him in the choir in heaven.”  

Martin said she discovered that her husband died after she went to his apartment to help him carry his drums to Market Street on Monday. 

Cheryl Martin, wife of legendary Market Street drummer Larry Hunt, shows a picture of her late husband. | David Sjostedt/The Standard

“I would try to help him, but he liked to push the buckets down there on his own,” she said while fighting back tears. “It was just something he did to keep everyone else happy. I think that’s what kept him going every day.” 

Hunt taught himself to play the drums at 3 years old, she said, and his enthusiasm for street music eventually landed him a role in Will Smith’s movie The Pursuit of Happyness and on America’s Got Talent.

“When he was sick, being down there playing the bucket made him feel good,” Martin said. “That’s what I want people to remember him by.” 

David Sjostedt can be reached at