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RUSTY YOUNG,
1946-2021

Pedal-steel guitarist Rusty Young, the founding member of Poco who led the group through its many incarnations, died Wednesday of a heart attack at his home in Davisville, Mo. He was 75.

Young founded Poco with former Buffalo Springfield members Richie Furay and Jim Messina and stayed with the group until the pandemic brought an end to touring in March 2020. He'd met Furay and Messina in 1968 while contributing to “Kind Woman,” which wound up being the last track on the final Springfield album.

Poco’s 1969 debut, Pickin’ Up the Pieces (Epic), is a landmark country-rock album. It put the band on a pace of an album a year until, by 1978, they'd released 10 albums (they moved to ABC with 1975’s Head Over Heels). Members came and went throughout their history; most famously, Timothy B. Schmit came aboard for their second album and left in 1977 to join The Eagles, while guitarist-singer Paul Cotton started a lengthy run in 1970.

Taking on more of a leadership role in the late ‘70s, Young wrote Poco’s biggest hit, “Crazy Love,” the #1 adult contemporary song of 1979; it peaked at #17 on the pop chart. Serving as Poco’s frontman alongside Cotton after Schmit’s departure, Young also wrote the popular “Rose of Cimarron.”

Poco would release 19 albums between 1969 and 2013—Furay, Messina and Randy Meisner reunited for 1989’s Legacy. Young released a single solo album, Waitin’ for the Sun, in 2017.

He said he was done touring in 2014 but that turned out to be premature as Young led a unit of Poco for another six years, logging about 100 dates a year.

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