Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Rusty Young, founding member of country-rock band Poco and an influential steel guitar players in rock history, died yesterday (April 14) of a heart attack at his home in Davisville, Missouri. He was 75.
Norman Russell ‘Rusty’ Young was born February 23, 1946 in Long Beach, California and raised in Denver, Colorado, where he began playing lap steel as a boy and performed in local country and psychedelic rock bands throughout his teens. In 1967, Young was invited to Los Angeles by Richie Furay to play steel on Buffalo Springfield’s third and final album Last Time Around.
Soon after, Young, Furay, George Grantham and Jim Messina formed Poco. Over the next five decades, alongside members that would also include Randy Meisner, Timothy B. Schmit and Paul Cotton, Young became not only the musical core of the band, but also the writer and vocalist behind hits including “Rose Of Cimarron” and the No. 1 smash “Crazy Love.” The current band—led by Young and featuring Jack Sundrud, Rick Lonow and Tom Hampton—still performed over 100 dates per year.
“I made a promise to myself that Poco would only keep going if we remained a band of real musicians who were having fun,” Young said last year. “Because audiences can tell the difference.”
Rusty was inducted into Guitar Player Magazine’s Gallery Of Greats in 1974 and Steel Guitar Hall Of Fame in 2012. Young orchestrated Poco’s 50th anniversary reunion in 2017 and released his solo debut album Waitin’ For The Sun on Blue Elan Records later that year.
“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 Rick Alter, Poco and Young’s manager of more than 20 years. “To fans and fellow musicians alike, he was a once-in-a-lifetime musician, songwriter, performer and friend.”
Young is survived by his beloved wife Mary, their daughter Sara, son Will, and 3 young grandsons Chandler, Ryan and Graham, as well as Mary’s 3 children Joe, Marci and Hallie and grandchildren Quentin and Emma.
A memorial service will be held October 16 at Wildwood Springs Lodge in Steelville, Missouri where Rusty and Mary met 20 years ago.
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