The man who gave the Marshall Tucker Band their name died at age 99 on Jan. 20.
The Southern rock pioneers chose their moniker from a random discovery soon after they’d formed in 1972, as they confirmed in a social media post.
“We are saddened to hear of the passing of someone very special to our hearts, for very obvious reasons,” the post read. “Our band’s namesake, Mr. Marshall Tucker, passed away peacefully yesterday morning at the age of 99. Though he was never a member of our band, we wouldn’t be here today without his historic name.”
It continued: “In the early days when we were rehearsing in an old warehouse in Spartanburg, we found a keychain inscribed with his name. We needed a name ASAP… and the rest is history! 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.”
Frontman Doug Gray, the group’s only remaining original member, has explained on many occasions that the group hadn’t realized Marshall Tucker was an individual, assuming the keychain referred to a company that owned or leased the warehouse they used for rehearsal.
In a 2020 interview, Tucker himself said he’d used the premises for tuning pianos and handed the keychain in when he moved out, and hadn’t known about the band using his name at first. “I was at a friend’s house and the friend told me he saw I was going to be playing tonight,” he explained. “I said, ‘No I’m not going to be playing – I’m just sitting here with you.’” He added: “In a way, my name has been as far as Russia. My mother always told me, ‘Son, your name will go further than your face,’ and that is for sure.”
Top 25 Southern Rock Albums
For all of its woolly, trapped-in-the-’70s imagery, the genre has proven surprisingly resilient.