Rusty Young, a founding member of the country rock band Poco, dies at 75

Rusty Young, founding member of the country rock band Poco, has died at age 75.

Young’s management confirmed to USA TODAY Thursday that Young, born Norman Russell Young, died of a heart attack at his home in Davisville, Missouri on Wednesday.

“I just received word that my friend Rusty Young has passed away and crossed that line into eternity,” founding member Richie Furay said in a statement to Variety. “My heart is saddened; he was a dear and longtime friend who help me pioneer and create a new Southern California musical sound called ‘country rock.’ 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.”

Young formed Poco in 1967 with former Buffalo Springfield members Richie Furay and Jim Messina after Young was invited to play the steel guitar on Buffalo Springfield’s third and final album. George Grantham also joined Poco.

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Musician Rusty Young, a co-founder of Poco, died after suffering a heart attack on April 14 in Davisville, Missouri. He was 75 years old. (Photo: Timothy Norris, WireImage)

Over the next five decades, Young remained the only constant member of the band, which also included a rotation of members Randy Meisner, Timothy B. Schmit and guitarist Paul Cotton over the years.

The group’s biggest hit was the Adult Contemporary #1 single “Crazy Love,” which Young wrote in less than 30 minutes while working on his house. During a 2008 interview with MetroActive, Young said the hit song “was our first hit single. It’s a classic, and it still pays the mortgage.”

“I was paneling a wall and looking out over the valley in L.A. and the chorus came into my head,” Young told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2012. “I told them (the other Poco members) don’t worry about the ‘Ooh, ooh, Ahhhh haaa’ part, I can find words for that. And they said, ‘Don’t do that, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.'”

The musician, who started playing the lap steel guitar as a young boy while growing up in Denver, Colorado, was inducted into the Guitar Player Magazine’s “Gallery Of Greats” in 1974 and the Steel Guitar Hall Of Fame in 2012.

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(L-R) Timothy B. Schmit, Paul Cotton, George Grantham, Rusty Young and Richie Furay pose backstage during day two of California's Stagecoach Country Music Festival held at the Empire Polo Club on April 26, 2009 in Indio, California. (Photo: Frazer Harrison, Getty Images)

Rick Alter, Poco and Young’s manager of more than 20 years, described Young as “a once-in-a-lifetime musician, songwriter, performer and friend.”

“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,” Alter said in a statement to USA TODAY Thursday. 

A memorial service will be held for Young on October 16th in Steelville, Missouri, where he met his wife Mary two decades ago. 

Young is survived by Mary, their two children Sara and Will, his step-children Joe, Marci and Hallie, and his grandchildren, Chandler, Ryan, Graham, Quentin and Emma.

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