In the early 60's, the seeds were planted for what would become one of the most iconic bands in history. The Marshall Tucker Band founding members Toy and Tommy Caldwell, Doug Gray, Franklin Wilkie, Jerry Eubanks, and George McCorkle were playing in the music scene around Spartanburg SC, the "home base" for MTB, in bands such as "The Toy Factory" (named after Toy Caldwell).
All of them young men, their aspirations were put on hold when several of them were called into service in Vietnam, including Toy, who suffered injuries while there.
After serving their duty, the deployed musicians returned home, and resumed performing as the Toy Factory in the bars around Spartanburg, often opening for established acts, including the Allman Brothers.
In 1972, the first incarnation of what was officially dubbed "The Marshall Tucker Band" came together, adopting the name of a Spartanburg area piano tuner that was found on a key chain in their rehearsal area. This group included Toy and Tommy, Doug Gray, George McCorkle, Jerry Eubanks, and a young and talented drummer named Paul T. Riddle.
Their first studio album, the self titled "The Marshall Tucker Band", was a huge success, achieving multi-platinum sales, and introducing fans to songs such as "Take The Highway" and "Can't You See".
While being lumped into the Southern Rock and Country Rock categories, MTB actually defies categorization, as their country tinged guitars mixed in with grooving jam style progressions, rock/jazz oriented percussion and bass, and even a flute on some songs. The result is a band that through over 40 years of recording and performing, the loss of several members, and the migration of other members to other bands still draws large crowds and maintains an extremely dedicated following. The Marshall Tucker Band unifies their crowds through music, placing fans in cowboy hats and boots next to bikers next to others in tie-dye shirts and carrying the scent of patchouli. That ability to defy genres and entertain crowds of diverse tastes is a testament to the universal appeal of truly talented musicians coming together with the goal of entertaining their fans rather than just lining their pockets.
That attitude was prominently displayed on the Rock Legends Cruise II this year, as Marshall Tucker Band took the stage multiple times to standing room only crowds. Founding member Doug Gray was joined onstage by the current lineup of musicians, and promptly blew the fans away with their set-lists that covered the entire MTB catalog. Sometimes you see "legend" bands and leave disappointed because of the members just being guys milking someone elses name for all they can get out of it, but that IS NOT the case with MTB - If you closed your eyes, you could be transported back to the 1970's in a smoky bar or a crowded auditorium, listening to guys who love playing music perform.
In the mood to listen to some classic Tucker? Support the band, and download their "Greatest Hits" CD or other music from their catalog from HERE.
Below are some photos of the current band lineup performing on the cruise. Click on any image below to view a larger version and to launch sideshow. Images courtesy of Mother Shutter Photography