Talking Story with Marshall Tucker Band’s Doug Gray

by Karen Rose

Originally published in Big Island Weekly January 2014

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This month, the iconic multi-platinum selling Marshall Tucker Band kicks off it’s 43rd

year on the road. Their 2014 tour,”Take The Highway” kicks off in Hawaii and performs

at Kona Brewing Company on Friday, January 10th.

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One of the perks of writing about bands is being invited on stage to sing along!

 

The Marshall Tucker Band took the music scene by storm in the early ‘70s with their

Southern Rock sound and have been rocking ever since. With such hits as “Heard It in a

Love Song” and “Can’t You See”, their steller sound continues to excite crowds and

garner a loyal fan base.

 

One of the major Southern rock bands of the 1970’s, the Marshall Tucker Band was formed

in Spartanburg, SC, in 1971 by singer Doug Gray, guitarist Toy Caldwell (born 1948,

died February 25, 1993), his brother bassist Tommy Caldwell (born 1950, died April 28,

1980), guitarist George McCorkle (born 1947, died June 29th, 2007), drummer Paul

Riddle, and reed player Jerry Eubanks.

Big Island Weekly had the opportunity to speak with lead singer Doug Gray about his

musical past and what he thinks about today’s popular music. Gray’s southern charm and

spirited drawl were very engaging and likeable, just like one would imagine when

listening to him belt out “Fire on the Mountain.”

BIW – “Who are some musicians that you’ve especially enjoyed playing with and why?”

DG – “Well I think Eric Clapton would be the one because he walks in and he’s kind of

laid back and someone who just sits there and plays. I’ve played with BB King, Carlos

Santana – all these different people from jazz musicians to the Allman Brothers, we’ve all

sat down and play together. One of the most important things here is anyone who wants

to play can play. Hopefully musicians will show up for this show and get on stage as

BIW – “Growing up, what type of band did you fantasize about being in and how did you

get your original band together?”

DG – “In this case, we all went to high school together. We just wanted to be the best

band we could possibly be. We knew that there were a couple of guys in Spartanburg

that were overwhelmingly good musicians and every time we talked to these guys, they

wanted to be in the same band as well. So when we all got back from Vietnam and

settled down we did that. Then some of us got married and some of us got stupid, but we

had a great time.”

BIW – “What was your favorite decade of music and why?”

DG – “I’d say 1960s, because people were free and nobody was paying attention to who

was doing what drug, they were just playing music to please people. We never worried

about what was the next step, we only worried about what was happening right then. The

60s were good the 70s were even better. In the 80s all of a sudden came Saturday Night

Fever which didn’t do us any good at all.”

BIW – “How have you seen the music scene change throughout the 40 years you’ve been performing?

DG – “Well Miley Cyrus hasn’t showed me anything at all. I like people who show

emotion in their music. Usher is good, and Dione Warwick was good for a period of

time. All of these people show us what real music is all about. When you sit down with

somebody and want to share a lyric with them, or you have a girlfriend sit down with you

and say “Oh, tell me something sweet”, you want it to be better than good. Most things

are already written so we could write all day long and it would be hard to write

something new that gets you emotionally turned on. I think with Marshall Tucker Band –

if you listen to our old music and our new music as well – you’ll understand that it’s a big

part of our music and why our following is still so loyal. I’m really looking forward to

the show and performing – it’s always good.”