Feb 25, 1993: Marshall Tucker’s Toy Caldwell Dies

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Toy_Caldwell - fullHe’d been a founder and the lead guitarist and primary songwriter for the Marshall Tucker Band, a country-leaning Southern rock group that enjoyed success on the Capricorn Records label in the 1970s. They sold over five million copies of 14 albums released during Toy Caldwell‘s tenure in the group from 1972 to 1983 and played 200 to 300 dates a year, becoming staples on the U.S. concert circuit. Caldwell also sang one of the band’s best-known songs (also their first single), “Can’t You See,” and wrote their highest charting single release, “Heard It in a Love Song,” which reached #14 on the Hot 100 in 1977.

Playing guitar since his youth in Spartanburg, SC and in groups with his high school pals, Caldwell enlisted in the U.S. Marines in 1966. He was wounded two years later in Vietnam, and discharged in 1969. On his return home he went back to playing in bands and took a job with the Spartanburg Water Works.

His group Toy Factory eventually morphed into Marshall Tucker Band. They took their moniker from a name inscribed on the key to the group’s rehearsal room, not knowing it was an actual person. They later learned that Marshall Tucker was a blind piano tuner who had previously rented the space. Friendships with other bands from the then-burgeoning Southern rock movement like the Allman Brothers Band and Wet Willie helped the group get heard by and signed to the Capricorn label.

Caldwell was doubly hit by tragedy in 1980 when his brother Tommy Caldwell, bassist for the Marshall Tucker band, died in an auto accident. A month earlier another brother, Tim, also died in a road accident.

Related: MTB are included in our story, 11 Great Southern Rock Albums

After leaving the group Caldwell released one solo album and made another that was never issued. He was largely retired from music when he died on this day at age 45 from what was declared cardio-respiratory failure due to cocaine ingestion.

The Marshall Tucker Band are on tour. Tickets are available here and here.

Related: When the Marshall Tucker Band took the highway to Southern rock nobility

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7 Comments so far

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  1. Big Hoss
    #1 Big Hoss 9 February, 2021, 20:01

    The Marshall Tucker Band was the first album I ever owned in 1975, great band, great sound and just a good old southern country rock band. Thanks for the good music Toy, Tommy and the rest of the band, I hope heaven is as good as the Marshall Tucker Band was!

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  2. Baybluesman
    #2 Baybluesman 24 February, 2022, 23:49

    Super composer, singer, and guitarist.

    Left us way too early, as did Tommy.

    Watch some of the Charlie Daniels’ ‘Volunteer Jams” featuring Marshall Tucker Band/Toy Caldwell on YouTube, pumped through a quality home theater system, and you are guaranteed a treat for the ears, and the eyes, as you will be seeing true musicians holding court.

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  3. JoanJet
    #3 JoanJet 22 January, 2023, 14:30

    Love this band. RIP Caldwell brothers and Mr Marshall Tucker who passed today. Thank you for the joy!

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  4. Spodie O
    #4 Spodie O 23 January, 2023, 14:47

    First in my TX h-school to have their first album. Saw them the first time at SMU. Played their songs in our little local c & w band. Almost bought Toy’s home place in SC on the family farm back in 2007. Neck hair bristled on my neck while we were there looking. Really miss all of them!! RIP M-T!

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  5. Angelo Ruiz
    #5 Angelo Ruiz 26 February, 2024, 05:40

    Seen MTB two years in a row at Central Park Schaefer music festival. Grinder Switch was opener. Best shows Miss Toy, Tommy and George… Thanks for the music

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    • Keith
      Keith 6 March, 2024, 14:17

      Hey brother, took the train to NYC from NJ so many times to the Schaefer music festival when I was a young teenager. Saw MTB, Commander Cody, Crosby& Nash and many others for almost nothing. I even remember the free Central Park concerts every summer .The one I remember the most was when the Outlaws opened for the Starship and blew them off the stage.

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