LEBANON, Tenn., June 30 (UPI) -- One of the founding members of the Marshall Tucker Band, George McCorkle has died at age 60 in Lebanon, Tenn., after being diagnosed with cancer.
The man who wrote the Southern rock anthem 'Fire on the Mountain' died Friday at University Medical Center, The (Nashville) Tennessean reported Saturday.
'George was such a big, big part of the sound of that original Marshall Tucker Band,' said Charlie Daniels, a friend of McCorkle. 'If you took him out of it, the Tuckers would not sound like the same band. He played that electric guitar wide open.'
The Marshall Tucker Band was a bridge between musical styles in the 1970s, helping bring rock fans to country and to bring country fans to rock and blues.
'Kids aren't ashamed of country anymore, and they're not ashamed of blues,' McCorkle told writer Frye Gaillard in an interview that was included in Gaillard's 'Watermelon Wine: The Spirit of Country Music' in 1978. 'And when you mix it all together and the music gets to cooking, it's a pretty ... exciting thing to be around.'
McCorkle is survived by his wife Vivienne and son Justin McCorkle."
McCorkle services set for Tuesday
Visitation for George McCorkle, one of the founding members of the Marshall Tucker Band, will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Floyd's Greenlawn Chapel, 2075 E. Main St.
Graveside serivces will be held at 11 a.m. at Greenlawn Memorial Gardens.
McCorkle died Friday morning in Nashville, Tenn., at the age of 60. He had recently been diagnosed with cancer.
Article published Jun 27, 2007
Marshall Tucker guitarist George McCorkle is battling cancer, son saysJASON SPENCER, firstname.lastname@example.org
George McCorkle, a founding member of the Spartanburg-based Marshall Tucker Band, has been diagnosed with cancer and is spending what are likely his final days in a Nashville-area hospital.
"They're not really looking for a full recovery. They believe it to be terminal. But they haven't said, 'He's got this many days to live' or anything," said McCorkle's 31-year-old son, Justin, of his 60-year-old father.
"He is resting comfortable now. There's so many types of cancer that do so many different things so many different ways. We have a really good oncology group that's working with him."
The family is hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.
The disease has spread through his body and doctors don't feel he has much longer to suffer, according to McCorkle's Web site.
It's a quiet ending for a man who once tore up the stage in front of thousands of people.
"He was like the rock," said Paul Riddle, 53, the drummer in the original Marshall Tucker lineup.
"He was a rhythm guitar player primarily. I've never heard anyone to this day play rhythm guitar the way George played it. I had the luxury of playing the drums, of playing with him. It was a drummer's dream. The way he accompanied Toy (Caldwell) ... They really fed off each other. It was just amazing."
Riddle was only 15 years old, a sophomore at Spartanburg High School, when he met McCorkle - seven years his elder - and, later, Tommy Caldwell. When the three got together, that's when the Marshall Tucker Band was born, he said. They would soon add three more members: Caldwell's brother, Toy; singer Doug Gray and flutist Jerry Eubanks.
On their way
They began playing small venues, eventually landing a gig at Grant's Lounge in Macon, Ga. The Allman Brothers band was there that night. So were representatives from Capricorn Records.
Soon, the boys who had been practicing on Spring Street in Spartanburg were on their way.
They had long hair, and they were loud. They became forever linked with Southern Rock, creating a country-rock-blues sound that hadn't been heard before.
"We would really improvise a lot on stage," Riddle said. "It was a matter of trust, really. You have to trust the people you're playing with when you play in front of 30,000 people. And George did that better than anyone I've ever known."
McCorkle grew up in a rough-and-tumble mill village just outside Spartanburg, and he learned to fight at an early age. His parents divorced when he was young, and his mother worked at a cotton mill, according to the book "Hub City Music Makers."
He spent some time in the Navy, but stayed true to his modest roots: McCorkle didn't own a suit until 1980. He bought one when fellow band member Tommy Caldwell died.
The Marshall Tucker Band broke up in the early 1980s, though several reincarnations of it have followed. McCorkle and Riddle stayed out of that, and McCorkle has released one solo album, "American Street," in 1999.
New style of music
"The founding members, they basically brought a mixture of music together in such a way that it had never been presented before," Justin McCorkle said.
"They didn't do so on purpose. They did so because that's what they liked. It just so happened that it was a new style between country, rock and blues. (George McCorkle) was probably more of your blues influence. He's just an unbelievable rhythm and blues guitar player."
Since his father was diagnosed earlier this month, Justin has been back and forth between Nashville and his home in Pauline.
Charlie Daniels and some of the other Marshall Tucker Band members have been to visit, he said.
"He's just a real sweetheart of a guy. He's so appreciative, and just loves everybody so much, it's just hard to watch this happen to him," Justin McCorkle said.
"It's tough, but I have to stay strong ... The world doesn't stop, just because we're sick. I'm just trying to help my dad and do what he would want me to do."
Of the founding members, Tommy Caldwell died in a car crash in 1980 and Toy suffered a heart attack and died in 1993.
Riddle, after leaving the hospital Tuesday, said "We only expect him to live a few more days. Certainly he could live longer, but he hasn't eaten anything in 12 days. We were lucky today. He was awake. As hard as it was, we're thankful we went."
The two got to talk, briefly.
The last time they played together was a little over seven years ago, at an outside jam in Spartanburg. Riddle remembers they played "This Old Cowboy."
"It's just hard to believe," said Riddle, who lives at Lake Bowen. "He was a big brother figure to me. He was the oldest in the band. Everyone is in shock. I talked to him an hour-and-a-half on Thanksgiving. I'm just really going to miss him, I know that.
"I love him."