Marshall Tucker Band to entertain troops in Iraq, Kuwait by Dan Armonaitis While carrying on the legacy of one of the most admired bands in the history of southern rock, the current edition of the Marshall Tucker Band routinely boards airplanes to play gigs all over the world.
But when the Spartanburg-based band departed from Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport early Tuesday morning, it was hardly a typical experience.
The Marshall Tucker Band was on its way to Washington where it would board another plane en route to the Middle East.
The legendary band, led by founding member Doug Gray, will spend the next several days entertaining U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and Kuwait.
The trip is sponsored by Stars for Stripes, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing celebrity entertainment to internationally deployed U.S. military forces. “Going over there is going to be a treat,” Gray said Monday night.
“I feel really honored to have this opportunity. … We’re 100 percent ready to go.” Years before he helped form the Marshall Tucker Band, Gray served in the U.S. Army and fought in the Vietnam War. “I know how it feels to be far from home, and I know how it feels to come back,” Gray said. “And I sure as hell know what it feels like to miss people.” Gray, who once got to see a USO performance by Bob Hope while stationed in Vietnam, said the band will perform five to seven shows during its stay in the Middle East. “I’ve already gotten e-mails from people over there,” he said. “And I’ve gotten phone calls from people here saying ‘my uncle’s over there’ or ‘my cousin’s over there’ or ‘my daddy’s over there.’ Those e-mails and calls mean more to me than anything.”
Gray said the Marshall Tucker Band has been trying to put together a trip to visit military personnel in the Middle East for the past few years but it never worked out because of scheduling conflicts.
This week’s trip has been planned for the last three months, long before anyone could have anticipated that it would occur just days after the death of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.
“I lost a lot of my friends – firemen up there in New York City – when 9/11 happened, so I’m very, very proud that we did the job that we set out to do,” Gray said.
Ramblin’ Records, in conjunction with Shout! Factory, released a new Marshall Tucker Band “Greatest Hits” package last month, along with a collection of 30-year-old lost solo recordings by Gray called “Soul of the South.” Here’s a link to a story about the latter project published recently by the Herald-Journal and GoUpstate.com: http://www.goupstate.com/article/20110410/ARTICLES/110409763/1097?p=1&tc=pg
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