Marshall Tucker’s Doug Gray Talks Myrtle Beach, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Farewell Tour & Doug Hugs

Marshall Tucker's Doug Gray Talks Myrtle Beach, Lynyrd Skynyrd's Farewell Tour & Doug Hugs

Every time I talk to Marshall Tucker’s frontman, Doug Gray, he is just so nice. I mean, seriously, he is always in a great mood. So, he is one of my all-time favorite people to interview. He doesn’t just seem like a great person, though, The Marshall Tucker band puts on one heck of a show. Check out some of my other interviews with Doug Gray and be sure to catch The Marshall Tucker Band in concert locally this weekend in Raleigh [The Ritz] and Charlotte [Fillmore]. Today, Doug Gray talks with us about Myrtle Beach living, whether or not he thinks Lynyrd Skynyrd will actually retire and much more.

Marshall Tucker’s Doug Gray Talks Myrtle Beach, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Farewell Tour & Doug Hugs

Doug Gray: I’m playing a show in Raleigh tonight and then jumping over to Charlotte to play a show there tomorrow night. Then I’m coming back to the beach to hang out a little bit.

EPR: Nice! You are going to be at the Ritz and then at the Fillmore, right?

Doug Gray: Correct.

EPR: So, are you still living in Myrtle Beach?

Doug Gray: Well, I have homes both places. I was born in Spartanburg. I am down there just about all the time, whenever we’re off.

EPR: So, how is the weather at the beach right now?

Doug Gray: Today, had the wind not been blowing, there would have been a lot of people on the beach, believe it or not. When the wind blows, it’s a little chilly and nobody likes that. It’s like at night during the summer. It turned out good, though, today. I didn’t get a chance to sit in the sun too much, I’ve been working all day doing interviews and telling people stuff and trying to get my work done before, it’s funny I say that, before I have to do my shows. They are hand in hand, you know? But I do a lot of interviews as we travel so it’s pretty good.

EPR: So you do what, like 300 interviews a year? Is that correct?

Doug Gray: Somebody told you right!

EPR: That’s a lot! So how do you usually do that? Do you block several together on certain days or what do you do exactly?

Doug Gray: Actually, some like to do them 4 or 5 months in advance. And those are easy. Sometimes they are newspapers and sometimes it’s all radio. And it’s kind of a lot easier for the radio things because you can do them and then send them in and answer their questions and be prepared and it just makes it fairly easy. You start at 8 o’clock and you end up at 10 o’clock and you’ve done 10 or 15 at 10 minutes a piece. It does work like that for me, especially if I hook up and we get a group of morning shows and each one of them gets about 5 minutes and it works out good. Newspapers are the bread of life, you know? Because they get out there and let people know who you really are when you only get a couple of minutes of radio.

EPR: Did you do anything good for Valentine’s Day?

Doug Gray: Oh, I did. I went out and had dinner with my girlfriend. That’s our celebration, because we celebrate every night. We can go down to the Marsh, I don’t know if you know Myrtle Beach, but we can go down there and there’s a lot of things to do in Myrtle Beach. There’s times you get out and there’s times you don’t get out. Like it was Pizza Day the other day and we went to 4 pizza places and they were all full. So, we just decided we would try a new one and we did and it turned out to be just another pizza place. You know? It wasn’t very good.

EPR: [laughs] No… can you go out in Myrtle Beach? Do you get recognized a lot? I mean, do you get harassed or anything?

Doug Gray: No, not where I live. Where I live, I don’t and if we go out, usually, where I have been here on and off for years and years, it’s kind of like, nobody gives nothing you know? The bartenders are all players, guitar players or singers or in bands. And everybody comes. It’s like a little family or a group, except it’s lots and lots of people and that’s if you go out. And you know I really, really don’t go out a whole lot until the summer and everybody starts coming in and I happen to be here on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. If you look, all of my weekends are full for the rest of the year.

EPR: You do a lot of shows a year, don’t you?

Doug Gray: Yeah, about 125.

Marshall Tucker's Doug Gray Talks Myrtle Beach, Lynyrd Skynyrd's Farewell Tour & Doug Hugs

EPR: You stay really busy. How was the Southern Rock Cruise? You guys did that last month, didn’t you?

Doug Gray: Yeah we did, and that turned out to be really, really good because I got a chance to go into Jamaica a couple of days early. So, we got to go down there and eat, drink and be merry and lay out there on the beach. So, it was fun and then we got on the cruise and Skynyrd played and then the cruise left port. A lot of people don’t understand those kinds of things. You want the isolation of being on a cruise and being warm and having a good time. Then you want the ability to go listen to another band and see how they are and you can stand back. I listened to Skynyrd from back at the bar, beside a pole, and nobody even knew I was back there. Of course, I had my girlfriend in front of me and she’s a little bitty thing. So, I had her there and nobody said anything. You had to watch the excitement. Some of them people had been drinking for the last 10 hours. So, you have to watch out for people. But we had a great time. We always have.

Those cruises are not only really, really good for us, you know you got 3600-3800 people on the cruise and you got 40% of them that want to come see you. And then the rest go to everybody else. And it’s always fun. It gives you a chance to play in front of other people’s fans, they have their favorite band and they might know about you but they never did have a chance to see you. So all those things really turn out good for us.

EPR: You guys will be part of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Last Of The Street Survivors Farewell Tour” right? Do you think they will actually retire?

Doug Gray: Right. No. [laughs] Nah, it’s like me. What am I going to do? My girlfriend and daughter and everybody else says, “You are about to drive me crazy,” after 10 days at home. You know what I mean? So, I am about to drive them crazy after 10 days but I will tell you that I don’t think that they will ever stop until it’s time. There will be that last moment without saying names or whatever, there will be that last moment and then that will be the end of it and then whoever’s next will be next and then we’ll keep on going. Between us and Charlie and Gary with Skynyrd, we don’t know what stopping is about. And, of course, we went out, not only with Skynyrd, but we are going out with Charlie Daniels and the Outlaws and that whole tour. That’s where we get our multitude of dates.

We can play on just about anybody’s tour. Whether it’s our tour, because we have dates that we have to go out that The Outlaws are opening shows for us and stuff like that. New bands I get a kick out of because they are out there playing just like we were. They play 300 shows a year and travel by van and stuff like that because they are younger, for one thing. They are learning that things are a lot tougher out here than what most people realize. It really is. And, unless you enjoy it, you’re going to quit. If you’re in a new band, if you don’t enjoy it any more, you’re not going to be out here. You’re going to find an excuse and once you get that excuse, the world is somebody else’s to play music for then.

EPR: Between the dates with Lynyrd Skynyrd and the dates with Charlie Daniels and also your own tour, how do you actually have any days off?

Doug Gray: [laughs] Flying back and forth. We are kind of like a weekend type band, ok? Because we can and that’s the way it works. I mean, we were talking the other day… Travis Tritt comes back and he might headline one show, Charlie and I do a show and then we’re actually out with Alabama, opening shows, too, which are going to be good shows because, you know, they don’t tour that much anymore. But the reason that we are there is because we can draw tickets and draw people. It pays off in the long run. It’s very exciting and we get to see our old friends and make new friends. But as far as being off, when I am off, I am still usually doing interviews and I have sat on the beach with a towel over my chair, doing interviews before. So, I can handle that. It’s ok. That part’s easy to do.

EPR: Yeah, that’s not the worst way to do an interview, I wouldn’t think.

Doug Gray: No, well, I could be in my favorite beer joint. That would be ok, too.

EPR: So, what exactly is a “Doug Hug?”

Doug Gray: It’s a true thing. It started years ago. Someone come up with the idea because we were on the Native American Heritage Tour. They said, “Why don’t you do this? We’ll print the shirts up and put ‘Give Doug Hugs Away,'” and all the shirts sold out real quick. So, everybody wanted a “Doug Hug” and I guess it’s just something, whether you are a guy or a girl, anybody, you’re still going to get a “Doug Hug.” And it happens that way because I’ve always hugged people. I’ve always believed that’s something that’s a necessity. A lot of people will never tell you but they need a hug. Sometimes I can see it and sense it and sometimes I can’t. Very rarely, like one in probably 10 years have I seen that didn’t want a hug.

EPR: One of my readers, Ben, wanted me to ask how a Southern Rock band ended up including a flute player.

Doug Gray: Well, that was easy because he was from Spartanburg and he graduated from the same high school as we did. And, during rehearsal, we were talking, “Guitar don’t sound right on that part. Saxophone don’t sound right on that part. Keyboards don’t sound right on that part. But, Jerry, can’t you play a flute?” And Jerry said, “Well, I’ll have to practice on it.” And, so, that’s how it worked. It was never intended to be that way. I promise.

EPR: But it just seemed right when it happened.

Doug Gray: And it still seems right today, 45, 46 years later.

Catch the Marshall Tucker Band on tour this year with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charlie Daniels and on their own headlining tour. Get the full tour date list here.

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About Dawn McAlexander

Dawn has been a music lover her entire life. She went to college in Boone, NC, an area that is rich in music and culture. She also worked as a radio deejay for 8 years and grew up in Southeastern, Va, a melting pot of different musical styles and traditions. She has been to more concerts than she can count in every genre you can imagine. She resides in North Carolina with her furbabies and her massive collection of Disney memorabilia.

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