Rusty Young, country-rock pioneer, is dead at 75

Rusty Young, founding member of the popular country-rock group Poco And a key figure in establishing pedal steel guitars as an integral voice in West Coast rock in the late 1960s and ’70s. He died at the age of 75 at his home in Davisville.

His publicist Mike Farley said the cause was a heart attack.

Mr. Young played steel guitar with Poco for over half a century. Along with other Los Angeles-based rock bands such as Breads and the Flying Barito Brothers, Poco was among the architects of the late-60s country-rock movement, which incorporated traditional native instruments primarily into rock arrangements. The Eagles and other bands’ scores will be in their wake.

Formed in 1968, Poco originally consisted of singer-guitarists Jim Messina and Richie Farre – both formerly from Buffalo Springfield, Los Angeles, with another leading country-rock band – Mr. Young, drummer George Grantham and bassist Randy Meisner. With, a future member of the Eagles. (Timothy B. Smit, another future eagle, replaced Mr. After leaving the band in 1969.)

Poco initially came together for a high-profile show at Tropbor, West Hollywood, after Mr. Furr had not invited Mr. Young to play pedal steel guitar on his composition. “Kind lady,” The closing track on Buffalo Springfield’s farewell album, “Last Time Around”. The music that Poco made was generally a production of twins and Buffalo was more populist in orientation than Springfield, a band that at times tended to experimentism and convulsions.

Mr. Frey’s song “Pickin Pieces”, The title track of Poco’s debut album in 1969 was presented as a statement of purpose:

Well there is a little magic
We are alone in country music ‘
So let’s start.
We are bringing you back home where people are happy
Sittin ‘Pikin’ and A-Grinin
How are you and me
We’ll pick up the pieces, uh-huh.

Once keening and lyrical, Mr. Young’s pedal steel work reunited the group’s music with its rustic signature sound and helped create a prominent position for steel guitars among roots-conscious California rock bands.

Mr. 2014 Interview with Goldmine magazine, Referring to the works of Mr. Farre.

But Mr. Young, who also played Banjo, Dobro and Mandolin, was not averse to the use of music. He told Goldmine, “I pushed the envelope on a steel guitar, played it with a fuzzy tone, because nobody was doing it,”. He also played pedal steel through Leslie Speer, as would a Hammond B3 organist, leading some listeners to think he was actually playing an organ.

Mr. Young was not among Poco’s original singers or songwriters. But he emerged as one of the group’s frontmen, with the debutant Paul Cotton, in 1971 following the departure of Mr. Messina and in 1973 with Mr. Phure. Mr. Young wrote and sang as the lead singer. “Crazy love,” The band’s biggest hit, which peaked at number 1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart (and number 17 on the pop charts) in 1979.

He also wrote and sang “Rose of Cimarron,” One of Poco’s more enduring recordings from the 70s, and was intended for the 1989 reunion of the group’s original members The album “Legacy,” Like the 1978 platinum-selling “Legend”, which garnered a pair of Top 40 singles.

Norman Russell Young was born on February 23, 1946 in Long Beach, California. One of the three children of Norman John and Ruth (Stephenson) Young. His father, an electrician, and his mother, a typist, took him to a country music bar, where he was taken captive by steel guitarists as a child.

He grew up in Denver, where he started playing lap steel guitar at the age of 6. As a teenager, she worked with local psychedelic and country bands.

After moving to Los Angeles, but before joining Poco, he turned down an invitation to become a member of the Flying Barito Brothers, which at the time were Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman, formerly Birds.

After Mr. Cotton left Poco in a financial dispute in 2010, Mr. Young became the group’s sole frontman. The band made their final album, “All Fired Up”, in 2013, the same year Mr. Young was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in St. Louis. He released his first solo album, “Waitin ‘for Sun,” in 2017, and performed sporadically with the most recent version of Poco until the coronavirus epidemic arrived in March 2020.

Mr. Young is survived by his wife of 17 years, Mary Brennan Young; One daughter, Sarah; One son, Will; One sister, Corinne; And three grandchildren. His brother Ron died in 2002.

In the late ’70s, Mr. Young’s emergence as a vocalist and songwriter in Poco followed by almost a decade as an assistant, as it was fortunate.

“Rimmy and Jim were in the band,” the band didn’t need another singer-songwriter, “he explained, referring to Mr. Farrey and Mr. Messina, in a 2014 Goldmine interview.” My job is to play steel guitar and music. Had to make a part. So when my job changed, it opened up a lot of opportunities for me. So I liked things.

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