Founding Poco singer and multi-instrumentalist Rusty Young, known for his influential lap-steel guitar playing with the pioneering country-rock group, died Wednesday after suffering a heart attack at his home in Davisville, Missouri. He was 75.
Young formed Poco in 1968 with Buffalo Springfield members Richie Furay and Jim Messina, drummer George Grantham and bassist Randy Meisner, although Meisner quit the band shortly before the release of its 1969 debut album, Pickin’ Up the Pieces. Meisner was soon replaced by Timothy B. Schmit.
In the early years of Poco, Rusty mainly contributed as an instrumentalist and occasional songwriter. The band underwent various lineup changes during the 1970s, with Messina and Furay exiting, respectively, in 1970 and ’73. After Schmit left the band in 1977 — to replace Meisner in the Eagles — Young took on a bigger role in Poco, writing and singing more songs.
In 1978, the band scored its first top-20 hit with “Crazy Love,” a song written and sung by Rusty that peaked at #17 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Poco’s original lineup reunited to record the 1989 album Legacy, which featured two top-40 hits, “Call It Love” and “Nothin’ to Hide,” the latter of which was sung by Rusty.
Young continued to lead Poco’s various incarnations until his passing. In 2017, Young released his debut solo album, Waitin’ for the Sun, which featured guest appearances by Furay, Schmit, Messina and Grantham.
“Rusty was the most unpretentious, caring and idyllic artist I have ever worked with, a natural life force that he consistently poured into his music,” says Poco’s and Young’s longtime manager, Rick Alter. “To fans and fellow musicians alike, he was a once-in-a-lifetime musician, songwriter, performer and friend.”
A memorial service for Rusty will be held October 16 at Wildwood Springs Lodge in Steelville, Missouri, where he met his wife, Mary, 20 years ago.
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