Rusty Young, cofounder of the rock band Poco — and the only original member to last all five decades of its run — died Wednesday o
Rusty Young, cofounder of the rock band Poco — and the only original member to last all five decades of its run — died Wednesday of a heart attack at his Davisville, Missouri home. He was 75.
“I just received word that my friend Rusty Young has passed away and crossed that line into eternity,” Poco cofounder Richie Furay, 76, confirmed in a statement to Variety. “My heart is saddened; he was a dear and longtime friend who helped me pioneer and create a new Southern California musical sound called ‘country rock.’”
Young was the writer for Poco’s biggest hit, 1978’s haunting “Crazy Love,” which was named the No. 1 adult contemporary song of 1979 and peaked at No. 17 on the overall Hot 100 that year, according to Billboard.
Furay continued, “He was an innovator on the steel guitar and carried the name Poco on for more than 50 years. Our friendship was real and he will be deeply missed. My prayers are with his wife, Mary, and his children Sara and Will.”
Born on Feb. 23, 1946, in Long Beach, California, Norman Russell Young grew up in Denver, Colorado and played lap steel in local groups before relocating to LA in 1967 to play steel on sessions for Buffalo Springfield’s iconic final album, “Last Time Around.”
Young formed Poco in the legendary “Summer of Love” with former Buffalo Springfield members Furay and Jim Messina, along with newcomers Timothy B. Schmit and George Grantham. Paul Cotton would join the band a few years later.
“The only reason we’re talking now is ‘Crazy Love,’ ” Young said in a 2008 interview. “That was our first hit single. It’s a classic — and it still pays the mortgage.”
Poco celebrated its 50th anniversary reunion in 2017 — and the band was still road-gigging more than 100 shows a year before the pandemic hit. The band’s members changed over the years but the final lineup consisted of Young backed by Jack Sundrud, Rick Lonow and Tom Hampton.
“I think things went the way they were supposed to go,” Young told Goldmine in 2014. “We did have a big hit in 1978, and if it hadn’t been for Richie leaving the band, and Timmy (Schmit) leaving the band, and Jimmy leaving the band, I never would have been a songwriter or a singer, so those things had to happen for my life to be the life it is. So I’m really pleased.”
Young is survived by his wife, Mary, their daughter, Sara, son, Will, three grandsons (Chandler, Ryan and Graham), and Mary’s three children (Joe, Marci and Hallie), and grandchildren Quentin and Emma.
A memorial service is set for October 16 at Wildwood Springs Lodge in Steelville, Missouri.