Larry Hunt, known as San Francisco's 'Bucket Man' of Market Street, dies at 64

Lyanne Melendez Image
Friday, March 3, 2023
SF's 'Bucket Man' Larry Hunt dies at 64
Larry Hunt, known as San Francisco's "Bucket Man" who drummed on Market Street for years, has died at 64.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco has a few eccentric people and colorful characters that make the city unique to those who visit. This week, the city lost one of them. Larry Hunt was known to many as the "Bucket Man." Before you saw him, you most certainly heard of him.

"If I stop playing, I'll die," he said in a 2009 interview with ABC7 news.

Hunt wanted to play his makeshift drums forever as long as he had an audience, and that he did. Tourists would stop to listen to the "Bucket Man," as he was affectionately known. In 2009, he confronted those businesses near Union Square who called him and a few other street performers a public nuisance.

"This is how I got off the streets, I was homeless and I got off the streets just doing this," he told us.

Hunt, 64-years-old, died on Monday. The medical examiner has yet to determine the cause of death.

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ABC7 news spoke to his partner of 12 years.

"He laid down and never got up. I went to check on him and he was dead," revealed Cheryl Lein Martin.

When he died Hunt was living in an SRO. For years he lived on these streets across from Glide Memorial. He knew everyone and everyone knew the "Bucket Man."

"His picture is on everything. He'd been down here playing the drums for God knows how long. I've been here for 22 years, so," explained Iris Butler, a friend who also works for Glide.

He made a cameo appearance in the movie "The Pursuit of Happiness," and proudly displayed a picture of then San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom playing his buckets.

For years, Charles Grays shared this space with the Bucket Man next to the Cable Car turn around at Powell and Market.

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"He found his little niche in life and he really enjoyed coming out here. He would carry those buckets from five to six blocks," said Grays.

Hunt was always outspoken. In 1993, he fought to keep his welfare benefits when Alameda County proposed major budget cuts.

"I ain't done a crime in my life but if you all cut this budget, you're going to kill everyone out on the street struggling," Hunt said in that 1993 public hearing.

His partner says those buckets brought meaning to his life.

"His smiling face and how happy he was, how happy he was playing the buckets and making everybody happy," added Lein Martin.

On Tuesday, where the Bucket Man regularly entertained - there is an unfamiliar silence.

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