Marshall Tucker Band Singer: "This Ain't A Jerk-Off Contest"
While they were often tagged strictly as "Southern Rockers" after starting out in the early '70s, the Marshall Tucker Band also freely incorporated blues, jazz, country, and other sounds into their music. They had a flute player, for chrissakes!
The Marshall Tucker Band today
Led by guitarist and chief songwriter Toy Caldwell, the group's classic six-man lineup scored a string of hits including "Take the Highway," "Fire on the Mountain," "Heard It in a Love Song," "Searchin' for a Rainbow," "This Ol' Cowboy," and "Can't You See."
When Toy's bassist brother Tommy died in 1980 from injuries sustained in a car wreck, the band soldiered on before splitting up in 1983. With Toy's blessing, singer Doug Gray and flute/sax player Jerry Eubanks resurrected the group five years later, continuing the MTB's "long hard ride" on stage and in the studio. A new greatest-hits compilation has just been released, along with Soul of the South, a Gray solo effort.
Rocks Off spoke with the affable vocalist and torch-bearer from his home in Spartanburg, S.C., where the band started, about Toy's legacy, souvenir women's panties, and the real Marshall Tucker.
Rocks Off: You're playing here on a double bill with Blue Oyster Cult. How the hell did that booking happen?
Doug Gray: You're telling me (laughs)! We have played festivals with them before and I'm familiar with them. But we used to open for bands like Golden Earring and Slade in the early days. We'll see how the show works!
DG: Of course. I think it's very important for me to please the audience. And if I was the one that was no longer around and any other of the original members wanted to keep it going, I'd roll over in my box and go "Good job!" (laughs).
I mean, this ain't a jerk-off contest. But one of the guys has been with me for 27 years. I even had my nephew for awhile [Clay Cook], but he's in the Zac Brown Band now. He's best friends with John Mayer. John came over and had Thanksgiving with us several times. We still sell music - and downloads!
What it boils down to is that if you keep pleasing the audience, they'll keep coming back. When we started, we just wanted to make enough money to buy beer.
RO: What about women?
DG: Well (laughs) we don't sell Marshall Tucker panties at our shows for nothing! But things have changed. Instead of people bringing an extra bottle of booze or a line of cocaine to party with Marshall Tucker, they bring whatever their wife cooked.