Formed in 1971, the Marshall Tucker Band (MTB) laced its rock and roll with doses of country, blues, and jazz, selling millions of albums in the 1970s and 1980s and influencing acts such as Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, Jr., Charlie Daniels, and Kid Rock.
Formed in 1971, the Marshall Tucker Band (MTB) laced its rock and roll with doses of country, blues, and jazz, selling millions of albums in the 1970s and 1980s and influencing acts such as Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, Jr., Charlie Daniels, and Kid Rock. Named for a blind South Carolinian who tuned pianos, the group kept Spartanburg as a home base, a fact that allowed the upstate town to share the band’s limelight. The original MTB included lead guitarist and chief songwriter Toy Caldwell, bass player Tommy Caldwell, lead singer Doug Gray, drummer Paul Riddle, rhythm guitarist George McCorkle, and flutist/saxophone player Jerry Eubanks. Signed to Capricorn Records, MTB released its self-titled debut album in 1973. That album contained a Toy Caldwell composition called “Can’t You See,” a song that would later be covered by Hank Williams, Jr., Waylon Jennings, and others. The band’s most successful album was Searchin’ for a Rainbow (1975), which included the McCorkle-penned “Fire on the Mountain,” a song whose lyrics are displayed at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame. Other notable MTB songs include “Take the Highway,” “Long Hard Ride,” and the Top-Twenty single “Heard It in a Love Song.” Each of the band’s six albums with Capricorn sold at least 100,000 copies, with two selling more than one million. A late 1970s shift to Warner Brothers Records proved less fruitful.
Tommy Caldwell died in 1980 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident. Former Toy Factory bassist Franklin Wilkie then joined the band, which soon added keyboardist Ronnie Godfrey. Toy Caldwell, McCorkle, and Riddle left the group in 1984, with Caldwell going on to record a solo album in 1992. Caldwell passed away after a heart attack in 1993 at age forty-five. Gray and Eubanks carried on the MTB name, utilizing various supporting musicians, until Eubanks departed in 1996 and left Gray as MTB’s only remaining original member.
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