Doug Gray may never retire the Marshall Tucker Band.
"It just feels too good," Gray said while calling from his Spartanburg, S.C., home. "When I get up there onstage, I turn into something I wish I was."
The soft-spoken singer-songwriter isn't referring to the version of himself that existed 30 years ago when Marshall Tucker was among the Southern rock giants. He is referring to an alter ego that comes alive when he's under the lights.
Gray, 63, formed Marshall Tucker — which will perform Saturday at the Wichita River Festival — in 1971.
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"It's been a long time since I've been at this, but I can't imagine doing anything else," Gray said. "What I do doesn't wear me out. It makes me feel so good when I get in front of a microphone."
It also makes Gray feel good sitting in his study, which is a misnomer. ("My family calls it a study but I never studied," Gray cracked.) He's proud of the hardware and gleaming platters that adorn his man-cave.
"I'm surrounded here by gold and platinum records," Gray said. "I have a lot to be proud of."
Marshall Tucker, which is the name of a Spartanburg piano tuner, sold millions of albums and crafted a number of hits such as "Heard It in a Love Song" and "Fire on the Mountain."
"We accomplished a lot," Gray said. "I think we did really well. We built an audience and tended to it."
Gray kept the band alive after it peaked during its late '70s/early '80s heyday. More than 20 musicians have been part of Marshall Tucker during the last 40 years.
It would be easy to become a nostalgia act, but Marshall Tucker continues to make music. Take for instance its "Beyond the Horizon" (2004) and "The Next Adventure" (2007).
"I feel as though we still have something to say," Gray said. "I've always been creative, but why stop now?"
One fan recently lined up all of the Marshall Tucker Band albums for Gray and explained that there is common thread, which tells a story.
"I guess he's right," Gray said. "I never thought about it, but if you look at the titles and the artwork, there is some sort of story there. I obviously didn't do it intentionally, but it's there. I want to keep adding to that story."
If you go: The Marshall Tucker Band
What: Riverfest Classic Rock Concert
Where: Kansas Star Music Park at West Bank
When: 8:15 p.m. Saturday (Shyner plays from 4 to 5 p.m., and Street Survivor plays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.)
How much: $5 festival button