In 1972, the members of Marshall Tucker’s band got together and began writing songs and recording music. Five decades after it all began, founding member Doug Gray hasn’t quite believed the crowds still turning out to hear her music.
“It’s really been an amazing journey that we’ve been on for the past 50 years,” he says.
Gray shared his thoughts during a phone call while traveling on the band’s tour bus. As part of a busy anniversary tour throughout 2022, Marshall Tucker is touring the country with shows from New York to California to many states in between.
He says the fans are very supportive.
“We are doing at least 120 shows this year. Of the top nineteen, all but one are sold out, and even oversold.”
People who come to shows can’t wait to hear classics like “Can’t You See”, “Heard It In A Love Song”, “Fire On The Mountain” and many more.
“It’s just a feeling these songs give people,” Gray says.
The story of Marshall Tucker began in the early 1970s with a group of high school friends in Spartanburg, South Carolina. After graduation, they each went to serve their country in Vietnam, and then, after returning home, gathered to play music, forming the Marshall Tucker Band. The original members included Gray, brothers Toei, Tommy Caldwell, George McCorkel, Paul T. Riddell and Jerry Eubank.
Over the course of nearly a decade, they made great music together, helping launch the genre that would come to be known as Southern Rock.
Things changed for the band in the early 1980s after Tommy Caldwell died in a car accident and Toei, who wrote some of the group’s biggest hits, found it difficult to go on without his brother.
Today Gray, the last original member of the group, keeps the music and legacy alive. And he does so with the help of a group of distinguished musicians.
“Some of these guys have been with me 20 and 25 and they are stronger than me, actually. And they play their asses to honor and honor Toy and Tommy.”
Gray credits Marshall Tucker’s continued success to several timeless lyrics that remain firmly attached to audiences.
It is also helpful for younger generations to discover their music through live broadcasts and TV shows such as “The Voice” and “American Idol” where rising singers have chosen to perform Marshall Tucker songs like Can’t You See. ”
These same songs also find their way into the soundtracks of new shows and movies made for streaming services like Netflix
“We’ve already approved five of them for this year and next,” Gray explains.
He says he is grateful that the music is still loved by so many. He feels a responsibility of sorts, to help keep Southern Rock alive, especially in the wake of the recent loss of his dear friend Charlie Daniels. Daniels, who passed away in July of 2020, was instrumental in helping Marshall Tucker in the early years, even playing some of the band’s first few albums.
“You know, Charlie and I planned this ‘Fire on the Mountain’ tour and that’s what this tour could have been. But the COVID pandemic got in the way, and then we lost Charlie. And that’s a myth you can’t replace.”
However, Gray will continue to work to carry the Southern Rock banner. He is honored to do so.
“I’m so proud that people are going to look up to me for it. I’m proud of all the guys that stuck with me, not just me, but they stuck with Lynyrd Skynyrd and some of these other bands. But it’s not going well. New bands like Blackberry Smoke, and people Like that, and the Zac Brown Band of course. We still have those guys that are going to be Southern bands.”
As for Marshall Tucker’s band, the music plays.
“We just want to have a good time.” Gray says. “And we want people to come out feeling like they had a good time.”
Fifty years later, Marshall Tucker and Doug Gray, in particular, had no plans to slow down anytime soon.
“Let’s keep doing this for as long as possible. Like I said before, when my time comes, let them lift me off the stage on a stretcher.”
Gray pauses here to laugh, then adds, “Maybe I raise my hand to say goodbye.”