When The Marshall Tucker Band released their debut single, "Can't You See," in 1973, they likely never could have envisioned that the song, which failed to chart at radio, would live on more than four decades later, thanks to reality TV talent shows like American Idol, The Voice and more. Artists whose parents grew up in The Marshall Tucker Band era, like recent Idol winner Laine Hardy and The Voice runner-up Chris Kroeze, are just a few of the artists who performed "Can't You See" on live TV shows – something founding member and lead singer Doug Gray never could have imagined so many years ago.
"I think it has something to do with not only the generosity of Toy Caldwell and George McCorkle and me and everybody else that was writing songs in the original Marshall Tucker Band," Gray told PopCulture.com. "People are coming up – they're using more in the Netflix and the Amazon movies. There's more room for some songs that have really true meaning.
"I get a chance to call some of these kids up, the guys and the girls that do our songs on these shows," he continued. "Don't forget that Kitty Wells covered one of our songs. So that's a good comparison."
Gray also never imagined that, two generations later, people would still be flocking to their shows and buying their music.
"The kids are finally realizing through radio and through free press The Marshall Tucker Band, and then all of a sudden we go and we open for Lynyrd Skynyrd again after all these years and continuously open for them," Gray said. "They're on what they call their final tour and we go out there in front of 84,000 people in Jacksonville. At the autograph table, the kids are saying, 'Hey, do y'all have any CDs out? Can we download some of your stuff?' That's quite impressive."
The Marshall Tucker Band is one of only a very few music acts, of any genre, who have been able to maintain both selling music and selling tickets to their shows consistently for more than four decades.
"Time is blurred for The Marshall Tucker Band," Gray acknowledged. "I guess that's the first time I ever said that. The Marshall Tucker Band knows no boundaries and now we've blurred that time period from 1972 and '73 until today, where I'm booking shows quite honestly up until 2020. You probably know more about that than I do ... We've had more people than some of the other people that have hit songs out."
Gray is already 71 years old, but vows to keep playing as long as people keep wanting to hear the music.
"There's absolutely no reason for me to ever tell anybody that I would let them down. Period, as long as I am physically able to get out there and do the best job I could," Gray insisted. "You know all my guys. You know they're far superior musicians than I am. I'm just the director of traffic. I'm the guy that's directing traffic. But every so often, in my head, I luck out and hit a good note. And I just think that there's no reason to say, 'That's going to be the end.'
"If they roll me out, and hopefully they will roll me out, not carry me out, they'll roll me out of the concert hall with 20,000 people screaming and people not knowing that I'm gone and they'll know it later," he added. "I hope they don't cry. I hope they've been happy with joy."
Photo Credit: Getty images / John Shearer