Marshall Tucker, Namesake of Iconic Southern Rock Band, Has Died
Marshall Tucker never played a lick of music in the Marshall Tucker Band. In fact, he wasn’t known for performing at all. He was in the music business though. For almost 50 years, Marshall Tucker was one of South Carolina’s most trusted piano tuners. He tuned pianos for some of the most famous piano players ever, including Lawrence Welk and Liberace. But through a twist of fate, his name became known worldwide, and synonymous with Southern Rock.
Born blind but with perfect pitch, Marshall Tucker learned how to tune pianos when attending a boarding school for the blind and deaf. When a piano tuner came to the school, he discovered young Marshall Tucker could name off any note he heard, and tell if it was on pitch or not. This led to Marshall Tucker being trained to tune pianos for a living.
So how did a Southern rock band from Spartanburg name itself after him?
In 1972, original Marshall Tucker band members Toy Caldwell, Tommy Caldwell, Gray, Jerry Eubanks, George McCorkle and Paul Riddle rented an old warehouse as a rehearsal space. This was in the band’s nascent stages before they had an official name. One of the band members noticed that the key to the warehouse had the name “Marshall Tucker” inscribed on it, since Marshall Tucker had rented the space previously for his piano tuning business. Thinking that the name was cool and catchy, the band decided to name themselves The Marshall Tucker Band right then and there.
At the time, The Marshall Tucker Band didn’t even know the name referred to an actual person. Marshall Tucker didn’t figure out he was named after a band either until one of his friends remarked to him that they saw he would be playing music in town. Both the band and the man eventually put two and two together, and Marshall Tucker has been sort of a Marshall Tucker Band mascot ever since.
The same year Marshall Tucker became the namesake of the Marshall Tucker Band, he also married his sweetheart Lois who was born legally blind as well. The members of The Marshall Tucker Band have changed quite a bit over the years, but as a collective, they always kept up with Marshall Tucker through the years. The band is who informed the public that Marshall Tucker died on Friday, January 20th at the age of 99.
“Though he was never a member of our band, we wouldn’t be here today without his historic name,” the band said in a statement. “Marshall was blind since birth but amazingly could play the heck out of the piano. He always said his talent was simply God-given. He tuned pianos in South Carolina for decades. We are thankful for Mr. Marshall Tucker and the life he lived! Sending blessings to his wife and family.”
January 21, 2023 @ 8:16 pm
Information I did not know concerning the origin of the band’s name. Interesting!
January 21, 2023 @ 8:26 pm
One of my all time favorite bands period. Always enjoyed their songwriting, the unique styling they brought to music, their sense of melody and the monster musical chops they possessed. Toy and Tommy Caldwell were so good. And Doug Gray was a spectacular vocalist. These days his voice is quite literally just gone, sadly. At this point they are more a tribute band. I knew the story about blind Marshall Tucker. Didn’t know he lived that long however, sounds like he had a cool life despite his disability.
January 21, 2023 @ 8:56 pm
God Bless, Trig.
What a Beautiful tribute & story.
January 22, 2023 @ 5:46 am
I’m a big Marshall Tucker fan and I did not know that. Thanks for this. Very interesting.
The band was unique in so many ways. The pan flute, dueling fiddles, etc. They were more like a country Steely Dan than they were like other rock bands.
January 22, 2023 @ 9:03 am
Yes, and George McCorkle on lead Bullwhip on ‘Long Hard Ride’
January 22, 2023 @ 12:22 pm
And sax! Country, Jazz, Swing, Rock. The full package
April 5, 2023 @ 6:05 pm
RD- “A country Steely Dan”. Very well put and both bands are two of my absolute favorites.
January 22, 2023 @ 7:56 am
Kinda funny that two of the most popular southern rock bands were named for real people. Marshall Tucker and Lynyrd Skynyrd who took their name from their P.E. teacher Leonard Skinner. Skinner was notorious for strictly enforcing the school’s policy against boys having long hair.
January 22, 2023 @ 8:53 am
I never knew there was a real Marshall Tucker. Thanks for reporting on it.
January 22, 2023 @ 9:09 am
The story I had heard, back in the day, was that he was a teacher or Custodian at their high School that let them practice in the Gym, funny how a story gets contorted.
They were one of the first bands that I heard that turned me on to Country music, being a suburban kid in NJ, my brpther brought home, ;Long Hard Ride’ and I;ve been infected ever since.
Was lucky to meet Doug and Toy in the parking lot after a show in the Lubbock Colliseum while at college, really friendly guys. Their music still holds up now these many years, my young nephews are big fans now as well.
Nice to hear the real story behind Mr. Tucker, may he rest in peace!
January 22, 2023 @ 9:27 am
One great man! And his wife Ms Lois, he will truly be missed! Now you can play the grand piano for our Lord ever more!
January 22, 2023 @ 10:23 am
Had no idea Mr. Tucker was still alive sounds as if he led a fine life. Marshall Tucker Band should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, need some kind of veterans committee like baseball has to see overlooked bands are inducted. Can’t You See might be my favorite song.
January 22, 2023 @ 12:17 pm
Marshall Tucker is one of the best American bands of all time, arguably, the best
January 22, 2023 @ 12:52 pm
Makes me want to listen to “This Ol Cowboy” again.
January 22, 2023 @ 7:14 pm
January 22, 2023 @ 1:25 pm
I get the feeling that you can name a band after anything or anyone.
Though I would have guessed the Marshall Tucker was a founding member of the “Marshall Tucker Band.”
January 22, 2023 @ 1:40 pm
“The band is who informed the public that Marshall Tucker died on Friday, January 20th at the age of 99. ”
Lesson learned, piano tuners live long life. Maybe it’s because this trade is kind of “easy does it” No boss, work on your own hours, etc.
January 22, 2023 @ 5:40 pm
Never knew the background of the band’s name. After reading about the gentleman named Marshall Tucker, and his being blind, reminded me of the end of one of the group’s songs. Go listen to The Last Of The Singing Cowboys.
January 23, 2023 @ 7:49 am
The content I come here for (well not death, but interesting historic tidbits). Well done.
January 23, 2023 @ 1:35 pm
Wow – we’re all getting old. Music was the best in our generation – 50s-70s. First one in my TX h-school to have MT’s first album (8-track in my “old blue” chevy). LOVED IT – wore it out. Saw the original band first time at SMU early 70s – blew us away! Lived in the Carolinas for a couple years and almost bought Toy’s home next to the Caldwell family farm back in 2007. Didn’t know that’s what we were going to look at. Walked and talked with a neighbor there and got the scoop on all the old times, horseback rides, parties and souls there from back in MT’s haydays. Hair bristled on my neck the whole time walking through the house, barn and property. Walked in the footsteps of Toy, Tommy, Hank Jr, Charlie and all the rest of the country-rockin’ bros that hung there with Toy – what an experience! My clan and our little TX town LOVED Marshall Tucker! No others will ever come close! RIP all you country rock pioneers and their namesake – Mr. Marshall Tucker!
January 23, 2023 @ 7:16 pm
Wow I did not know this. I find it superior that a part of his life was shared for all to know. Great to hear he spent his life living! I saw Marshall Tucker Band at an outdoor concert in Winston Salem. Early 80’s Can’t You See RIP namesake-Marshall Tucker.
Steve Earle is a Guitar God
January 24, 2023 @ 9:52 am
Regards to Mr. Tucker’s family.
You can make a strong argument that Toy Caldwell was the best songwriter from all the late 60’s/70’s bands from the south. He was much more prolific than Gregg Allman & Dickey Betts and Ronnie Van Zant only wrote the lyrics for Skynard songs.
He was also a great guitar player and a decent pedal steel player. Self-taught on pedal steel right after Marshall Tucker formed.
February 1, 2023 @ 7:52 pm
The Marshall Tucker band is still one of my favorites. I got to see them live in Chandler,Az in the early 90s what an awesome show.I did not know the story behind their name.What a cool story.
March 12, 2023 @ 4:43 pm
I found the story fascinating. As a youngn, I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to names. But I did know MTB made my feet move. And 50+ years later, they still do. Practicing some of their songs today.
It was a great thing MTB done with Mr Tucker’s passing. It would be great also to discover a song or two with Mr Tucker accompanying.
God’s speed Mr. Tucker