Marshall Tucker Band taking highway to Parkersburg
PARKERSBURG – The Marshall Tucker Band won’t just be performing Aug. 16 at the 2015 Parkersburg Homecoming – they’ll be participating too, said founding member and lead singer Doug Gray.
“We’ll be out walking around,” he said. “We interact more than most bands do.”
In fact, Gray said, some people in the audience might not realize they crossed paths with him or one of the other five current members – B.B. Borden on drums, Pat Elwood on bass, Marcus James Henderson on keyboards, saxophone and flute and Chris Hicks and Rick Willis on guitar – until they spot them on stage.
“We’re not out here just to take their money and run,” Gray said.
It will be something of a homecoming for the group too, Gray said, since they played the West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition in nearby Mineral Wells three years ago. But wherever they are, he and the band tend to feel right at home among their fans, whether they’re longtime listeners or people just starting to appreciate the Marshall Tucker sound.
That sound is often classified as southern rock, but the band can play rock, country, blues, jazz and gospel.
“That’s just what we’ve been all our lives. That’s what we’ll continue to be,” Gray said.
“Can’t You See,” from the band’s 1973 self-titled debut album, has been featured in movies like “Blow,” “Half Nelson” and “Stop-Loss” and numerous TV shows, along with other hits like “Heard It In a Love Song” and “Take the Highway.” Their songs have been covered on “American Idol” and “The Voice.” That – and parents and grandparents sharing the love – has kept the band in the forefront for new generations of fans, Gray said.
In fact, even though the band started performing more than 40 years ago, it’s folks in the 18-to-37 age range that have downloaded more Marshall Tucker songs in the last six years than any other demographic, he said.
“Now it’s about making sure that we know all these people who have given us all these platinum and gold records,” Gray said. “Without the people, we would be nothing.”
That’s three platinum and seven gold records to be precise. The first platinum album was the band’s first album, which took them from opening for label-mates The Allman Brothers in 1973 to headlining their own shows the following year.
Gray was one of the original members along with brothers Tommy and Toy Caldwell, Paul T. Riddle, George McCorkle and Jerry Eubanks. There wasn’t a Marshall Tucker among them – that was the name of a piano tuner they found on a key ring in their old rehearsal space, according to the band’s website, marshalltucker.com.
Tommy Caldwell died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in 1980, and Gray stepped up as the front man for the band. Four years later, Toy Caldwell, McCorkle and Riddle retired, but Gray and Eubanks carried on the legacy of the band with their blessing. Eubanks retired in 1996, and Gray continues to record and tour with the band.
“It enables us to memorialize,” he said.
Gray said his favorite song to perform is “Can’t You See.” Although Gray sang lead on most of the band’s songs, Toy Caldwell, who also wrote it, did the honors on that one.
“I was not the original singer of that, so I let the audience sing on that,” Gray said.