Tommy Caldwell, 30, of the Southern-rock Marshall Tucker Band, died early Monday in his native Spartanburg, S.C., of injuries received in an automobile accident April 22.
Mr. Caldwell, the group's bass guitarist, suffered severe head injuries when his car crashed into a stalled car and overturned in downtown Spartanburg. Caldwell flew out of the open door and traveled about 20 feet striking a curb. He was taken to Spartanburg General Hospital and underwent emergency surgery at the neurological unit. He never regained consciousness.
Mr. Caldwell and his brother Toy, 34, were founding members of the six-man Marshall Tucker Band, one of the most successful -- and, after the dissolution of the original Allman Brothers Band, probably the best -- of the Southern rock movement. Sometimes called redneck rock, it is a high-energy, high-volume amalgam of country, blues, rock and boogie that adopted the Confederate flag as a symbol of the rising of a New South.
While the Allman Brothers established a hard-blues melodic standard for Southern rock, the Marshall Tucker Band gave it a softer, sometime wistful tone by adding flute and saxophone.
The band signed with Phil Walden's now-defunct Capricorn label in 1972, and a year later was named best new group in Rolling Stone magazine's annual music awards. After years as the golden boy of Southern recording Walden's constellation faded, and last year Marshall Tucker moved to Warner Bros.
Along with other Southern groups such as the Allman and the Charlie Daniels Band, Marshall Tucker played numerous benefit concerts for Jimmy Carter's 1976 campaign, and was invited to perform at one of the five post-Inaugural parties.
Tommy Caldwell's death was a double blow to the band and his family, coming only a month after his younger brother, Tim, died in a car crash five miles away in Roebuck, S.C.
That coincidence seems to reinforce the legend of a jinx that rides with the Southern rockers.
On Oct. 29, 1971, Duane Allman, one of rocks music's premier guitarists and innovators, and founder of the Allman Brothers Band, died in a motorcycle crash in Macon, Ga.
Just over a year later, on Nov. 11, 1972, Allman's bassist, Berry Oakley, was killed, also in a motorcycle accident, only a few blocks from the site of the Allman crash.
On Oct. 21, 1977, six members of the Lynyrd Skynrd band and entourage were killed when their plane ran out of fuel and crashed in southwest Mississippi. Among the dead were vocalist Ronnie van Zandt, Skynyrd's moving spirit and author of the anthemic "Sweet Home Alabama": "I heard mr. Young sing about us, I heard ol' Neil put us down; Well, I hope Neil Young will remember, Southern Man don't need him around, anyhow."
The music of the Marshall Tucker Band, on the other hand, moved away from the bellicose "South shall rise again" image to the metaphor of an open highway, and of the rambler whose solitude has become loneliness. Among their best-known songs are "Heard It in a Love Song," "This Ol' Cowboy," "can't You See," "Take the Highway" and "Searching for a Rainbow."
The band was scheduled to begin a Midwest concert tour this week, but has canceled all engagements.