The latest release from the Marshall Tucker Band is definitely a slice of history. "Live! From Spartanburg, South Carolina" is a recording that documents the group's 1995 induction into the South Carolina Music Hall of Fame. Early reviews have been positive, and lead singer and founding member Doug Gray says the fans have been very receptive to the album.
"One of the most important things about the record is that they say it takes them back to a particular moment," he told Billboard. "Actually, that was the feeling we were looking for on just about every record."
Gray says the album is not just a tribute to members like Tommy and Toy Caldwell, who died in 1980 and 1993, respectively, but those on the album who have since passed. "When you hear people like Hughie Thomasson from the Outlaws who's no longer with us, or our own George McCorkle, who died in 2007, it's all very special. I couldn't have asked for anything any better. It's fresh. Even though it's old. I thought it was as good of a record that we could have put. out – without many changes. There were probably less than five little things that needed to be fixed, and nothing musically. That's something you can't say about records today," he says proudly.
Gray has strong memories of getting the call that the band was going to be enshrined. "We were somewhere on the road, and I forget the guy's name who called, but he said ‘We want to induct you into the Hall of Fame. What would you like to do that would make it extraordinary?' I said ‘Just us showing up would be good.' He asked us what we would like to do, and of course, we said ‘Go back to Spartanburg, SC, where we all went to High School or Junior High School, and where we grew up. These people were following us around everywhere. We decided to make a special night of it."
Gray says he is glad that they made the decision to record the ceremony / concert, though he wasn't sure what they were going to do with it. "We got a truck to come in – not anticipating the real recording of it, but the fact that we didn't know what was going to happen. We truly didn't. And, with all these entertainers coming up for it, we knew we were going to have some great musicians. People came from as far as away as California for it. They wanted to be a part of it. We put on a great show. That was two or three wives ago, and certainly before one of my kids were born," he said with a chuckle. "We just had a great time. Everybody got to hang around in the afternoon, and it made for a peaceful and easy night. We all went our separate ways, and luckily we had an opportunity to live with that same family many times after that – until some of them passed away. This is a memorial to those special people."
Those relationships – and memories become more special over the years, as Gray relates. "Charlie Daniels and I talk about that when we see each other. We were in the studio, and started thinking about all the people were on stage with that night – and they're gone. All of these people touched my life. For me to be able to put this out – even though some of those people are gone, I think it's a tribute to how we were a family. I think it all goes together, and carries on what we started in those eight years that we were together as the Marshall Tucker Band."
What lies ahead next for the band? Gray says "there's a lot of stuff in the can from the original band, and a few movies that some of the songs will be in next year. We're preparing to go on a couple of cruises, and play music. I have nothing but a lot of happy and smiley faces right now."