Stuart Swanlund Dies: Marshall Tucker Band Guitarist Was 54

    August 8, 2012
    Amanda Crum
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Stuart Swanlund, guitarist for The Marshall Tucker Band, passed away on Saturday at his home of natural causes. He was only 54.

Swanlund has been a mainstay in the band since 1985, with only a brief hiatus to deal with a painful health issue that could have cost him his guitar playing.

“I developed dupuytrens contracture disease,” Swanlund said. “It takes several years to develop. People with ancestors in Northern Europe are prone to get it. It’s a bunch of scar tissue that builds up in your palm and I had some in my ring finger. It gradually pulls your fingers down. There’s no medication they can give you all they can do is operate. There really wasn’t any other choice. If I didn’t have the surgery eventually I wouldn’t be able to play. My fingers were almost down into my palms. It had got to the point where I couldn’t really do a regular solo. I could still play chords, but I couldn’t stretch out and hit any kind of octaves at all. But by finding the best specialist to perform the surgery it was well worth the pain and healing.”

Founding member and singer of the band Doug Gray praised Swanlund on his unwavering dedication to the band recently, expressing grief for the loss of his longtime friend.

“He recently took a hiatus from the road due to health problems and even with those issues, Stuart’s enthusiasm onstage never waivered. Our thoughts and prayers are with Stuart’s family and those who knew him. We have lost a great friend.”

Swanlund grew up in South Carolina, which was perhaps an influence on his musical abilities. He certainly brought a one-of-a-kind sound to the Southern Rock band, which would go on to spawn many imitators and admirers. He picked up a guitar at the age of ten and never looked back, later preferring a Music Man Silhouette Special over the one he took over from his sister.

Swanlund leaves behind his wife, Stacey, and son Billy, as well as three grandchildren. But he also leaves a legacy rich with the roots of Southern Rock which inspired so many who came after, including Kentucky band Fifth On The Floor. It is a legacy which will be felt for quite some time.

  • hard

    Truly a sad day for guitar players. THis guy really had talent. At least we have Justin Beiber to fill the void with all of his “talent.”

  • Tallman

    I like the sarcasm behind the Beiber comment.

  • Mike

    I liked the Marshall Tucker Band in the 70’s.I had no idea they were still playing.

  • Anne

    Grew up with this band, must have seen them play more than 25 times over the years but especially in the 70’s. Our group of friends loved singing and listening to these guys, Charlie Daniels, Poco, New Riders, Linda Ronstadt, The Eagles and more, those were some great times, sorry to hear one of the Tucker guys has passed. RIP you are now done “Seachin’ for a Rainbow”!

  • Kurt

    In response to the comment that the Marshall Tucker Band is “still playing” . . . they’re not. I’m sure Stuart was a great guy and a fine guitar player, but any true fan of the band knows full well that it essentially ceased to exist in 1980, when Tommy Caldwell died. I loved (emphasis on past tense) Doug’s singing, but with Toy and Tommy gone, his decision to continue with “the band” under the same name was unacceptable, and any fan who saw them after 1983 can attest to that. Listen to recent youtube videos of Doug’s “singing.” I continue to mourn the passing of “the Tucker guys” . . . Toy, Tommy and George McCorkle. Perhaps this is the wrong forum for such remarks, and my thoughts are certainly with Stuart and his family. But it would be a good time for Doug to finally decide to call it quits.