Armed with years full of Macon memories, the iconic southern rock band comes home for one night only to make new ones with comrades Wet Willie and The Georgia Thunderbolts.
If you’re wondering whether Doug Gray has felt the passage of time after all these years on the road with The Marshall Tucker Band, rest assured that he has, no question. But the road is not filled with pressure or expectations from the lead singer and the only original member left in the iconic southern rock band.
For Gray, staying on the grind is the only way to keep not only the music but also the spirit of the band alive, especially for the fans who’ve kept their spirits up for nearly fifty years.
“The real word is loyalty and dedication,” Gray said of the band’s fanbase in a recent interview with The Creek.
“On stage, I tell everybody four and a half times, I’ve been married four and a half times and then I sing ‘Heard It in a Love Song (Can’t Be Wrong)’ and they get to sing it. I don’t have to sing it anymore because it’s their life. It’s part of them.”
And they’ve been the biggest part of him in so many ways, too, a chosen family scattered to the four corners of the world. For Gray’s own family, watching the group carry on such a remarkable legacy over time has brought both immense pride and a few understandable questions over the years.
“They’re very proud of what I do and that I’ve continued. But my daughter, who’s a psychiatrist, she said, ‘Dad, why don’t you retire? You’ve got more than you need, more than you’ll ever need.’ But there’s nothing more exciting to me than standing on the side of the stage,” he admits.
Yes, the times have changed, and Gray carries a clear vision of where the band has landed in the modern musical landscape. But no evolution of the band itself or the touring industry at large could deter Gray from keeping the wheels rolling.
“It’s that performing artist mentality. We’re a C band, we’re not an A band. Taylor Swift’s an A band, all these other people are an A band, B band. I’m the last one left in that group. I mean we all have had replacements, a lot of deaths and bands, stuff like that. But we have the resilience to go out there,” he said.
“What the hell would I feel like if some of those people that came to see us saw me in a restaurant, and said, ‘I bought your gold records and I bought your platinum records and I bought five copies of this back when it was eight-track…’ What could I say to them? That’s what I told my daughter when she asked me why I won’t retire.”
For Gray, it’s simply his joy—his way to give back just as much as he gets from the experience of living in glory days and walking in new ones with each appearance the band makes.
“That moment that you stepped right before you walk out on stage, you look down to make sure you’re not going to stumble on a wire, and you walk out there, and you just throw your hand up one time and say hello to everybody and that feeling comes back at you. It makes you cry sometimes. Sometimes when you’ve had a problem with other people or there’s trouble in the world, you can’t fix it, but you can sure help heal it.”
Plus, any return to Macon is always a welcome opportunity for Gray and the other longtime members to stroll down memory lane.
“Coming down is always a trip for me,” Gray said. “We’ve played the Cherry Blossom Festival, out in the road, down the street. But what I’m looking for this trip is what everybody down there has never forgotten: that music is born in certain places.”
Like Macon, Georgia, and for his money, some of the group’s most memorable moments took place at historic Grant’s Lounge in the heart of downtown.
“The women’s bathroom was on one side. So, the stage was really not a big stage, maybe three inches high. We were set up and Toy was standing over to my right and I was standing a little bit more towards the middle. And every time somebody would go by, they would knock Toy’s amplifier over. So, I’ve taken pictures in front of Grant’s Lounge. I’ve taken pictures of me in front of Grant’s Lounge, me going into Grant’s Lounge, Dr. John was in the front room practicing the piano… those are the things I remember.”
“They are the reasons that I’m looking forward to coming back.”
Macon and all of Central Georgia will welcome the Marshall Tucker Band back home at the Macon City Auditorium on November 17th, with special guests Wet Willie and The Georgia Thunderbolts. Tickets are still on sale and can be purchased here.