It was back in 1972 that members of the Marshall Tucker Band first got together and began writing songs and recording music. Five decades after it all began, founding member Doug Gray can’t quite believe the crowds that are still turning out to hear their music.
“It’s truly an amazing journey 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 crisscrossing the country with shows from New York to California to many states in between.
The fans, he says, are so supportive.
“We’re doing at least 120 shows this year. And out of the first 19, all but one sold out, and even oversold.”
People who come to the shows can’t wait to hear classics like “Can’t You See,” “Heard It In A Love Song,” “Fire On The Mountain,” and many others.
“It’s just a feeling those songs give to people,” Gray says.
The Marshall Tucker story began in the early 1970s with a group of high school friends in Spartanburg, South Carolina. After graduation, they each went off to serve their country in Vietnam, then after returning home, came together to play music, forming The Marshall Tucker Band. Original members included Gray, brothers Toy and Tommy Caldwell, George McCorkle, Paul T. Riddle and Jerry Eubanks.
For nearly a decade they made great music together, helping launch the genre that would become known as Southern Rock.
Things would change for the band in the early 80s after Tommy Caldwell died in a car accident and Toy, who wrote some of the group’s biggest hits, found it difficult to continue without his brother.
Today Gray, who is the last original member of the group, keeps both the music and the legacy alive. And he does it with the help of a rock-solid group of musicians.
“Some of these guys have been with me 20 and 25 years and they’re stronger than I am, in reality. And they’re playing their asses off to respect and honor Toy and Tommy.”
Gray credits Marshall Tucker’s continued success to many of the songs’ timeless lyrics that still connect so strongly with audiences.
It helps, too, that younger generations are discovering their music through streaming, and TV shows like “The Voice” and “American Idol” where up-and-coming singers have chosen to perform Marshall Tucker hits like “Can’t You See.”
“There’s five of them we’ve already approved for this year and next year,” Gray explains.
He says he’s grateful 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 good friend, Charlie Daniels. Daniels who passed away in July of 2020, was instrumental in helping Marshall Tucker in the early years, even playing on some of the band’s first few albums.
“You know, Charlie and I had planned this “Fire on the Mountain” tour and that’s what this one would have been. But the COVID pandemic got in the way, and then we lost Charlie. And that’s a legend you can’t replace.”
Still, Gray will continue to work to carry the Southern Rock banner. And he’s honored to do it.
“I’m extremely proud that people would look to me for that. I’m proud of all of the guys that stuck with, not only me, but stuck with Lynyrd Skynyrd and some of these other bands. But it’s not going way. New bands like Blackberry Smoke, people like that, and the Zac Brown Band, of course. We still have those people that will be southern bands.”
And as for The Marshall Tucker Band, the music plays on.
“We just want to have a good time.” Gray says. “And we want people to walk out feeling like they’ve had a good time.”
Fifty years later, Marshall Tucker and Doug Gray, especially, have no plans on slowing down anytime soon.
“Let’s just keep doing it as long as we can. As I’ve said before, when it’s my time let ‘em roll me off stage on a gurney.”
Gray stops here to laugh, then adds, “I might even raise my hand up to say good-bye.”