Six musicians in Spartanburg, South Carolina, formed The Marshall Tucker Band in 1972. The band found the name on a key in a warehouse they had rented to use for practice and decided to use it. Only later did they discover that the name belonged to a local blind piano tuner. The founding members of the band included Toy Caldwell, his brother Tommy Caldwell on bass, Jerry Eubanks on keyboards, flute, and tenor sax, lead singer Doug Gray, George McCorkle on rhythm guitar, and Paul Riddle on drums. Toy was the main songwriter and lead guitarist and also played steel guitar.
The group recorded demos in Macon, Georgia, and subsequently signed with Capricorn Records. Their eponymous album came out in 1973. The first single released from the album was Can’t You See. The album version of the song ran six minutes, as did most live versions of the song, but the single cut that down to a little over three minutes. The song just missed the Hot 100.
The group struck gold with their second album, even without a hit single. Their music caught the flavor of the Southern Rock movement, although it had traces of jazz and rock mixed in. The band toured extensively, performing an average of 300 shows per year, and that helped them gain fans and sell albums. Some artists that worked with them on their second album included Charlie Daniels on the fiddle and Jaimoe from the Allman Brothers Band.
The band’s fourth album contained their first single that reached the top forty on the Hot 100. Fire On The Mountain peaked at #38 and Charlie Daniels mentioned the title in the lyrics of his single, The Devil Went Down To Georgia.
In 1977, the band released their most successful single. Toy wrote Heard It In A Love Song, and the record reached #14 on the Hot 100 and #25 on the Adult Contemporary chart. The record was also country enough to reach #51 on the Country chart.
Capricorn Records re-released a longer single version of Can’t You See after that success. The second release did better than the first, but the single still peaked at only #75. The group never reached the top forty on the Hot 100 again.
Tommy died after a car wreck in 1980, and three other members of the group left in 1983. Over thirty musicians have been members of the group since then. The band recorded twenty studio albums and one Christmas album. Their various labels have also released seven live albums; they recorded their most recent live album in 2017.
Doug is the only remaining original member still touring and playing with the Marshall Tucker Band.
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