LOS ANGELES – Rusty Young, co-founder of the country rock band Poco in 1968 and the only support in the group’s five-year history, died on Wednesday at the age of 75.
A spokesman said Young died of a heart attack at his home in Davisville, Missouri.
“I just got word that my friend Rusty Young has died and crossed that line into eternity,” co-founder Richie Furay told Variety. “My heart is sad; he was a dear and longtime friend who helped me pioneer and create a new musical sound in Southern California called country rock. He was an innovator in steel guitar and was named Poco for more than 50 years. Our friendship was real and it will be deeply missed. My prayers are with his wife Mary and his children Sarah and Will. “
Although over the years he had threatened to retire and let Poco rest, the group̵
Poco was formed in 1968 from the remains of Buffalo Springfield as Richie Fourier and Jim Messina teamed up with Young, who was lured to play the steel guitar on one of the band’s last records, “Kind Woman”, to form a new band that will continue in the tradition of the most tender and radical material of Springfield. After Furay and Messina left the band, Young shared frontman status with Paul Young for some of Poco’s most successful years in the 1970s and early 1980s.
It was Young who wrote Poco’s biggest hit, Crazy Love, which was named the No. 1 contemporary song in 1979. In a 2008 interview, Young said, “The only reason we’re talking now is Crazy Love.” This was our first hit single. This is a classic and still pays the mortgage. “
Rick Alter, Young’s (and Poco’s) manager for more than two decades, said, “Rusty was the most unpretentious, caring and idyllic artist I have ever worked with, a natural life force that he constantly infused into his music. For both fans and fellow musicians, he was a once-in-a-lifetime musician, songwriter, performer and friend. “
Born on February 23, 1946 in Long Beach, Norman Russell “Rusty” Young grew up in Denver and played school in the local country and psychedelic rock bands in his teens. In 1967, he went to Los Angeles on Furay’s orders to play steel in sessions for Buffalo Springfield’s swan song “Last Time Around.” They soon found Poco with George Grantham and Messina, along with Randy Meissner, who was soon replaced by another future eagle, Timothy B. Schmidt. Apart from “Crazy Love”, Young can be best remembered with the song “Rose of Cimaron”.
Ritchie had done [country-rock] with “A Child’s Request for Childhood” and “A Kind Woman,” “Young Told Goldmine in an Interview in 2014.” This was the rural part of Springfield, where Neil (Young) and Stephen (Steeles) were much more rock’n’roll. . You have to remember that there were no synthesizers in 1969, so if you really want a certain sound, you have to play a real musician. That’s why I got involved – because I could play a steel guitar and Dobro, banjo and mandolin and almost all the instruments in the country, except for violins. So I added color to Richie’s country rock songs and it was the whole idea to use country-sounding instruments. I also pressed the envelope on a steel guitar, playing it in a fuzzy tone because no one was doing it, and I played it through Leslie’s speaker as an organ, and a lot of people thought I was playing an organ because they didn’t realize I was playing the steel guitar. So we pressed the envelope in many different ways, instrumentally and musically in general. “
From the 1970s, when he was a frontman with the newer recruit Paul Cotton, Young said: “I think things went the way they were supposed to go. We had a big hit in 1978 and if it weren’t for Richie leaving the band and Timmy (Schmidt) leaving the band and Jimmy leaving the band, I would never have been a songwriter or a singer, so these things had to happen for my life to be like this, as it is. So I’m really happy. “
Young admits that David Geffen forced him to become a singer and songwriter after initially contributing only a few songs to the band and never vocally on early albums.
When it became clear that Furay was leaving to form the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, Young said that there was a meeting where Geffen “started with Tim and said,” Now, Tim, you write songs and sing, right? ? ‘And Tim says,’ Yes. ‘ So he says, “Well, don’t worry about Richie leaving; you’ll be fine.” And he looks at Paul and he says, “You play the guitar and you sing and you write songs, don’t you?” And Paul says, “Yes.” … Then he looked at me and George, he looked me in the eye and he said, “You don’t sing or write songs now, do you?” And I said, “No, I don’t.” So he said, “Well, you’re in trouble.” And that was the day I became a songwriter, and if it wasn’t for David Geffen who told me that, it would never have happened, and I owe him a lot for that. “
The 1989 collection album, “Legacy,” brought Furay, Messina, Meisner and Grantham back to Poco fold for a single project. In the early 2010s, several gathering events led Furay and Schmidt, including one at the California Stagecoach Festival. Otherwise, the group continued with Young as the only remnant of the group’s original legacy.
In 2014, Young declared that the group was about to leave him due to the severity of the road and his desire to focus on memoirs, but this turned out not to be the case. The final version of the band, backed by Young from Jack Sundrud, Rick Lowe and Tom Hampton, continues to perform more than 100 concerts a year, according to officials. The band celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017. Young released their first solo album, Waitin ‘For The Sun, that same year.
Young is survived by his wife Mary, daughter Sarah, son Will and three young grandchildren Chandler, Ryan and Graham, as well as the three children of Mary Joe, Marcy and Halley, and grandchildren Quentin and Emma.
Funeral services will be held Oct. 16 at Wildwood Springs Lodge in Steelville, Missouri, where Young and his wife met 20 years ago.