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years later, I sat down and took that idea and wrote ‘Billy The Kid.’ As far as our set goes, we’ll do ‘Saddle Tramp,’ we’ll do ‘Billy The Kid’ and we’ll do ‘Birmingham Blues.’ And we do a new instrumental that is about ten minutes long that features all of the guys in the band called ‘Black Ice.’ The thing about it is, you can only put so many tunes like that in a set. You can’t load the whole set up with those kinds of songs. So, we’ll do ‘Saddle Tramp’ and ‘Black Ice’ in the same set. If we do a long set, we may do one of the others.” “Saddle Tramp” is one of Daniels’ many songs based on his appreciation of the history of the Old West. His love of horses and time spent west of the Mississippi River as a young man helped to bring his cowboy songs to life. The cowboy theme was one he shared with Toy Caldwell, gui- tarist, songwriter and leader of the aforemen- tioned Marshall Tucker Band.


“I don’t remember having a conversation per se with Toy about cowboyin’, but Toy was into horses and I was, too,” says Daniels. “I was very much into it. In fact, I used to go out west to ranches. I’ve been a couple of times to the O6 Ranch out near Big Bend (TX) and do what they call ‘going out with the wagon’ where you’d go and stay out and sleep on bed rolls and brand calves and that sort of thing. I know that Toy got into team roping for a while. I’ve never heard anybody play like Toy did. To this day, people may copy what he does or something, but nobody could grab what Toy did. Toy paid no attention to convention. Toy didn’t copy anybody. Toy just grabbed a guitar and whatever came into his mind, he just did it. It was great to listen to and it was so inventive. And when he sang, he sang wide open, man. He didn’t hide that South Carolina accent or nothing. ‘Here I am. I’m Toy Caldwell. I play this guitar this way. I sing this way. I hope you all like it. If you don’t, I can’t help it. Here it is.’ He was a very unique charac- ter.”


Daniels has fond memories of the days when the MTB was hitting on all cylinders. “That was one of the hottest bands that I ever heard,” says Daniels. “When Tommy was alive and when they used to go balls to the walls onstage, it was so unorthodox. It was so uncon- ventional. One of the big parts of that band, and I


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don’t think he ever got enough credit for it, was George McCorkle and that electric rhythm guitar that he played was bang-slamming, just taking a straight pick and playing all six strings. He played the electric guitar in the same style a lot of people would play an acoustical guitar. Wide open. He was such a big part of that sound. And Toy and Tommy picking with their thumbs and Paul (Riddle) playing the drums and throwing in licks he thought of to throw in there whether anybody else would or not. And while the saxo- phone was not an anomaly, the flute (played by Jerry Eubanks) was almost an anomaly in a band like that. I mean, you go along with a real coun- try sound, with singer Doug Gray front and cen- ter, and all of a sudden a flute comes out of nowhere. It was so unconventional and so much fun to listen to, and when they played, the energy just poured off the stage. Where Tommy stood onstage, it looked like it had been raining. Tommy just poured sweat off of him. It fell off in drops onto the floor. They’d go so hard, up there hitting them thumbs together on those instru- ments. What a great band.”


However, tragedy hit the Marshall Tucker Band in their prime with the death of Tommy in 1980.Then, 13 years later, after the original line- up of the band had broken up, Toy died in 1993. McCorkle died of cancer in 2007. The deaths hit Daniels hard.


“What a sad, sad story,” says Daniels. “I remember Tim (Caldwell, Toy and Tommy’s brother) died and then Tommy died just a month or so later. I was in California when Tommy died. I just kept calling (after Tommy’s car accident) and had people calling me. I thought, ‘Tommy is going to get better. This just can’t happen.’ We were out there doing television and I kept calling daily and daily and finally George (McCorkle) called me and said, ‘Charlie, he’s gone. He’s out of here.’ So we canceled the Dinah Shore Show and came back to the funeral. When Toy died, it was the day the World Trade Towers blew up the first time in New York. We were playing Radio City Music Hall that night with Lynyrd Skynyrd and my manager David called me about 8 o’clock in the morning and he told me and, what can you say. We traveled so many miles together and were such good friends. We did more stuff. I


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