by Henry Paul
My first recollection of The Marshall Tucker Band was hearing them on the radio and seeing their records in the store. This was probably around 1974. I loved their country music influences and the image they projected with the artwork on their albums. I knew they were connected to the Capricorn Records scene in Macon and they represented a version of my dream come true.
Just before the release of The Outlaws’ first album we got a chance to open for the Tucker band in a small theater somewhere in Georgia. I remember how excited we were to be working with a band of their caliber and musical character.
After the show that night Tommy Caldwell came to our dressing room to say hello and introduce himself. He complemented us on our performance and asked us if there was anything we needed. We told him we were running low on beer, so he gave us two cases of ice cold Coors. This was before Coors was sold in the east and it was a much sought after rarity. Well, needless to say this made quite an impression on me. Tommy’s kindness and outgoingness that night defined him as a person and it became clear to me that he was the band leader and that he ran to organization from a position of strength and generosity.
With The Outlaws rise to stardom the following year we had the opportunity to work with the Tucker boys a lot. I was always impressed by the band’s power and unique musical personality. I think Tucker commanded more respect than any other band short of The Allman Brothers, and it was clear when you were in the presence that you were in the company of grown men! From the Marine Corps tattoos on their arms to the close knit group of professionals they hired to help them in their work, these were serious people doing great work without the bullshit trappings of excessive rock and roll stars who pretend to be bad asses.
Some of my fondest recollections of the Tucker Band were Tommy’s boots with golf spikes in the bottom that he wore with shorts to play golf in; Toy’s incredible talent as a player and a songwriter; Doug Gray’s seemingly effortless range and vocal power; Paul Riddle’s energy and intensity a drummer; George McCorkle’s song “Fire On The Mountain;” Jerry’s jazz influence; and their Silver Eagle bus all decorated inside with western style hardware and leather.
This was a band of intense professionals who dominated the rock and roll world for a moment. To this day I respect them more than any other band of the time.
Henry Paul has come full circle as a past and present member of The Outlaws, as well as country hitmakers Blackhawk, The Henry Paul Band and Brothers of The Southland. Visit henrypaul.com