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Marshall Tucker Band about more than just Doug Gray

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

There never was a musician named Marshall Tucker in the Marshall Tucker Band. Marshall Tucker was a blind piano tuner whose name was on a key the band used to access their original rehearsal area. Lead singer Doug Gray is the only remaining original member of the Marshall Tucker Band, and the band currently also includes guitarists Chris Hicks and Rick Willis, bassist Ryan Ware, drummer B.B. Borden, and keyboard, flute, and saxophone player Marcus Henderson.

Gray is the most prominent musician of the Marshall Tucker Band, whose 50th Anniversary Tour included a Sept. 10 performance at Pala Casino’s Starlight Theater, but the Marshall Tucker Band is about more than just Gray. That was shown during the Pala Casino concert.

The Marshall Tucker Band was formed in Spartanburg, South Carolina, in 1972 and the band’s first album was released in April 1973. As would be the case for any band with classic rather than up-and-coming status, some of the favorite songs of some audience members weren’t going to be played. That would be the case whether the band played ten songs or 20.

The Sept.10 concert lasted an hour and 40 minutes, but only 10 songs were played. Some of the time was consumed by Gray’s comments.

“You’re going to get your music tonight,” Gray noted during his comments between the band’s second and third songs. “I’m just trying to open up to feel better.”

Gray is now 74 years old, and one of his daughters has suggested that he retire. “At 70 years old why would I retire. Why would I ever retire?” he said.

In addition to being in bands, including his current one for 50 years, Gray was also a sergeant in the Vietnam War, and his mention of that 1968 activity drew applause from the audience. The audience laughed when Gray talked about how old he is. “Keith Richards helped me build the pyramids. He was the lazy bastard in the group,” Gray said.

Many of the audience members are also much older than when they first heard a Marshall Tucker Band song. “I do want to thank you all for keeping Marshall Tucker Band around for 50 years,” Gray said. “It’s my pleasure to be here with a bunch of old friends.”

It wasn’t Gray but rather the other musicians who were responsible for limiting the concert to 10 songs. The songs were extended through solo performances which displayed the talents of Hicks, Willis, Ware, Borden, and Henderson.

Since Henderson plays three instruments, he has quite a bit of talent to be enjoyed by the audience. “I love it when he does that and you appreciate it,” Gray said following one of Henderson’s solos.

The Marshall Tucker Band began the concert with “This Ol’ Cowboy” from the 1974 album “Where We All Belong.” The second song, “Dog Eat Dog World,” is actually from Hicks’ solo album released in 2008. The band then played “Take the Highway” from their original 1973 album and followed that with “Heard It In a Love Song” from a 1977 album. The concert closed with “Fire On the Mountain,” “Blue Ridge Mountain Sky,” and “Can’t You See.”

“Can’t You See” was from the original 1973 album, so Gray let the audience sing the beginning after remarking that the song has been played on the radio more than 130 million times and the audience knows the opening as well as the chorus.

It was actually Toy Caldwell who was the lead vocalist when “Can’t You See” was recorded. The Marshall Tucker Band has always been about more than just Doug Gray. What the Pala Casino audience experienced Sept. 10 wasn’t just Gray singing but the entire six-member band.

 

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