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Southern ambassadors of classic rock; One of the first Southern rock bands of the ‘70s, The Marshall Tucker Band performs one evening only at The Liberty

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From left, B.B. Borden, Rick Willis, Doug Gray, Marcus Henderson, Tony Black and Chris Hicks of The Marshall Tucker Band. (Submitted Photo)

Very few bands have influenced an entire generation with their style and stayed as relevant to rock and country music as The Marshall Tucker Band has done. Alabama, Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt and Blake Shelton all name The Marshall Tucker Band as one of their biggest influences.

Trendsetter, the voice of the American highway, legend, those names all befit the band that started out as music rebels in the early 1970s.

Along with the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Marshall Tucker Band brought the songs of the American South to to the world.

Their unique mix of rock, jazz and country influenced generations of musicians and the bands work ethic stood out from others who liked the party life a little too much. The tours and live performances of The Marshall Tucker band became legendary. They developed the image of a hard-working band that never lets their fans down and always deliver.

With tours, openings for other bands awards and gold records followed. The band recorded “Searchin’ for a Rainbow” in 1975 and followed with “Long Hard Ride” in 1976 while continuing to tour 250 to 300 days a year. With songs such as “Can’t You See,” “Heard It In A Love Song” and “Fire On The Mountain,” the band was a constant on the country and rock ’n’ roll charts.

In its long career, The Marshall Tucker Band has recorded 22 studio albums, three live albums, three DVDs and many compilation recordings. The band’s music also has been featured in several movies and television shows.

This year, The Marshall Tucker Band was asked to join Lynyrd Skynyrd on the road for their The Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour.

“We support Lynyrd Skynyrd and were honored to join,” said Doug Gray, the last of the original band members and a U.S. Army veteran.

Gray’s childhood was strongly influenced by his mother Peggy, who at age 7 brought him to different venues. She and his father, a cotton-mill worker, believed in his talent.

“I didn’t have a piano or guitar,” Gray said. “She just told me to sing and I did. Elvis’ newest songs were just released and I would sing ‘Love Me Tender.’”

Gray’s parents welcomed him home after every tour. “I think I am like my mom, I have her humor. Her first question she’d asked me when I came home from a tour was, ‘When are you leaving?’” he said and laughed.

Gray said that being on the road for such a long time was difficult on his private life. “It shows on how many wives I had,” he quipped.

After all of that success, Gray said he is still amazed about his career. “I still can’t believe it when bands (and musicians) like Santana, Elton John and Lynyrd Skynyrd come up to jam with us, and my fellow band members, too.”

He added, “We loved what we did. That’s why we didn’t break up. We had a family at home and we were family on the road.”

“When we started, we didn’t have all the accessories the young people have today. It was a lot of work. Musicians today can’t just lay back, you still have to work 365 days a year. Today’s bands have the benefit of technology. We didn’t even have cellphones,” Gray said. “Our first songs were on 8-tracks and 45 records. My daughter asked me, ‘How does that work?’ I still have an 8-track player and showed her.”

Gray is still a southern gentleman, saying that kindness towards others is important. Also, that he would always open the doors for others, if they are younger or older, male or female.

This isn’t Gray’s first visit to Roswell. He had been here as a visitor to learn about the UFO crash.

Gray said he is looking forward to meeting his fans in Roswell. “Come up to me after the show.”

Opening for the band is local musician Robin Scott. “I am excited to open the show for the pioneers of the southern rock sound of the 70’s — The Marshall Tucker Band is a paragon,” Scott said.

The Marshall Tucker Band will be performing at The Liberty Club, 312 N. Virginia Ave., April 19, at 7:30 p.m., doors open at 6 p.m. The concert is for adults 21 years and older who are members along with their guests. For more information, visit thelibertyinc.com or marshalltucker.com.

Vision editor Christina Stock can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 309, or vision@rdrnews.com.