The Marshall Tucker Band is an American Southern rock band originally from Spartanburg, South Carolina. The band's blend of rock, rhythm and blues, jazz, country, and gospelhelped establish the Southern rock genre in the early 1970s. While the band had reached the height of its commercial success by the end of the decade, the band has recorded and performed continuously under various lineups for nearly 40 years.
The “Marshall Tucker” in the band's name does not refer to a band member, but rather a Spartanburg-area piano tuner. While the band was discussing possible band names one evening in an old warehouse they had rented for rehearsal space, someone noticed that the warehouse's door key had the name “Marshall Tucker” inscribed on it, and suggested they called themselves the “The Marshall Tucker Band,” not realizing it referred to an actual person. It later came to light that Marshall Tucker, the blind piano tuner, had rented the space before the band, and the landlord had yet to change the inscription on the key.
The original members (and some later members) of The Marshall Tucker Band had been playing in various lineups under different band names around the Spartanburg area since the early 1960s. In 1966, members of several such bands merged to form the Toy Factory, named after guitarist Toy Caldwell. The Toy Factory's constantly-shifting lineup included, at times, Caldwell, Caldwell's younger brother Tommy, Doug Gray, Jerry Eubanks, George McCorkle, and Franklin Wilkie. In the late 1960s, bandmembers served in the U.S. Armed Forces, and saw action in the Vietnam War. By the 1970s, Toy Caldwell and George McCorkle had returned to Spartanburg, and the Toy Factory had resumed playing in area clubs.
In 1972, Caldwell and McCorkle once again revamped the band's lineup, eventually settling on Tommy Caldwell on bass, George McCorkle rhythm guitar, and Jerry Eubanks, flute/tenor sax, while adding Paul Riddle on drums. The new lineup adopted the name The Marshall Tucker Band. Wet Willie lead singer Jimmy Hall told Toy Caldwell to book the band at Grant's Lounge in Macon which he did. After hearing the band play at Grant's Buddy Thornton and Paul Hornsby recorded the band's demo at the Capricorn Studio in Macon, Georgia. Frank Fenter and Phil Walden signed The Marshall Tucker Band based on those demos.
The Marshall Tucker Band's self-titled debut, produced by Paul Hornsby, was released in 1973, and certified gold in 1975. All of the tracks were written by Toy Caldwell, including one of their most well-known hits, “Can't You See.”
Southern rock fiddler Charlie Daniels first of many collaborations with The Marshall Tucker Band came on the band's second album, “A New Life,” which was released in 1974, and certified gold in 1977. Daniels and blues guitarist Elvin Bishop were among several musicians that joined the band for “Where We All Belong,” a double-album (one studio album and one live album) released by the band in 1974 and certified gold that same year.
The following year the band's “Searchin' for a Rainbow” was also certified gold the year of its release, and contained the track “Fire on the Mountain,” which peaked at #38 on the Billboard charts. “Long Hard Ride,” the band's fifth consecutive gold album, was released in 1976, and its instrumental title track, which again featured Charlie Daniels on fiddle, was nominated for a Grammy Award.
“Carolina Dreams,” released in 1977 and certified platinum that same year, proved to be the band's most commercially-successful album, and included the track “Heard It In a Love Song,” which reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. The band's final Capricorn release came with 1978's “Together Forever,” which was produced by Stewart Levine.
The Marshall Tucker Band moved to Warner Bros. Records for their ninth album, “Running Like the Wind,” although they retained Levine as the album's producer. After 1983's “Greetings from South Carolina,” the band split up.
In 1988, Gray and Eubanks reorganized The Marshall Tucker Band to record the album “Still Holdin' On,” their one and only release on the Mercury Records 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.
In 1992, The Marshall Tucker Band produced its first album for the Cabin Fever label, “Still Smokin',” which managed to crack the Top 70 on the Billboard charts. The band's 1993 release, “Walk Outside the Lines,” marked a transition to a more country sound, relying less on long improvised jams that were the trademark of the band's early career. The album's title track was co-written by country music star Garth Brooks, a long-time fan of the band who considered writing a track for them a milestone in his career.
For 1998's “Face Down In the Blues,” the band added Spartanburg-area guitarist Ronald Radford and multi-instrumentalist David Muse, the latter replacing Jerry Eubanks, who had retired in 1996. “Gospel,” the band's 1999 album, featured the band's rendition of traditional songs such as “The Wayfaring Stranger” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” as well as several original tracks.
The Marshall Tucker Band continued recording and performing into the 21st century, playing between 150 and 200 shows per year. The band reissued many of its albums from the 1970s on its new Ramblin' Records label, as well as two two-disc compilations, the first “Anthology” being a 30-year retrospective and the second “Where a Country Boy Belongs” being a collection of the band's country songs. In 2004, they released another studio album, “Beyond the Horizon,” and the following year released a Christmas album, “Carolina Christmas.”