The Marshall Tucker Band developed its Southern rock roots in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Blending rock, rhythm and blues, jazz, country, and gospel, the Southern rock genre in the early 70s was a daily staple around the Mills household.
MTB enjoyed moderate success early in their career but in the face of personal tragedy the band slipped into obscurity and in 1983 went their separate ways.
Five years later MTB reunited and have performed in various lineups every since.
The original 1972 founding lineup included:
Toy Caldwell - guitarist, vocalist, and primary songwriter (1947–1993)
The “Marshall Tucker” in the band’s name refers a Spartanburg-area piano tuner. One evening while the band was practicing in an old warehouse and discussing possible band names, someone noticed that the warehouse’s door key had the name “Marshall Tucker” inscribed on it. That’s all it took. They didn’t know at the time it referred to a real person. It later came to light that Marshall Tucker, the blind piano tuner, was the previous warehouse tenant.
On April 28, 1980, Tommy Caldwell died from injuries sustained in a car crash on April 22. It was a devastating loss for the band, the people of South Carolina, and the Southern rock genre. The Charlie Daniels Band‘s 1980 album Full Moon is dedicated to Caldwell.
In 1979 MTB moved over to Warner Brothers and released Running Like the Wind. Over the next four years the band released five more albums under the WB banner. The 1983 album Greetings from South Carolina could only manage a 202 spot on the album charts and within weeks of its release the band hung up their guitar picks and went their separate ways.
In 1988, Gray and Eubanks reorganized MTB to record the album Still Holdin’ On, their one and only release on the Mercury label. Although Gray and Eubanks added new members Rusty Milner, Stuart Swanlund, and Tim Lawter, Still Holdin’ On was primarily recorded with studio musicians. The newer members had a much greater role, however, on the band’s 1990 album, Southern Spirit, released on the Sisaspa label. The album marked a return to the band’s country and blues roots.
Founding member Toy Caldwell died in his South Carolina home on February 25, 1993. The cause of death was listed as respiratory failure.
The band continues to tour and make music for fans around the country.
This post is dedicated to the memories of brothers Toy and Tommy Caldwell.
The band at Tom Bass Park Amphitheater in Houston - May 15, 2011. Photo by Barry Sigman (email@example.com)
Note: In an odd coincidence, one year later on April 28, 1981, Steve Currie, bass player for the British rock band T-Rex, also died in a car crash.