Abbie’s StoryRead here for Abbie's experience growing with Toy Caldwell
I am Abbie Caldwell. I was married from September 12, 1969, until his death, to the late Toy Caldwell, founder, primary songwriter and lead guitarist of The Marshall Tucker Band. Much has been written about The Marshall Tucker Band and my late husband since he passed away February 25, 1993; some of it true, some of it a complete fabrication. I decided to create this site, first as a testimonial to the memory of my late husband Toy and his brother, Tommy and their talent and the music they created as members of The Marshall Tucker Band, as well as the too short lived career of Toy as a “solo” artist.
It is my desire to set the record straight and tell the history of The Marshall Tucker Band, as I know. I was there from the beginning...
The day after Toy graduated from Dorman High School, he was on his way to Parris Island, SC, the year was 1966. I did not know Toy at the time, although we lived a few blocks apart. Tommy and I were friends, and in 1967 The New Generation had a large following, the band members consisted of Tommy, Doug Gray, Danny Powell, Bart Foster and Ross Hanna.
Toy returned from active duty in 1968. I had not met Toy yet but the Toy Factory had taken shape with Toy and Tommy, Ross Hanna, Doug Gray and Jerry Eubanks. Also during this time there were many musicians in Spartanburg that jammed with the band, and Wayne Cassanta and Red Rock were also in the Toy Factory at a time. I don’t know if it was a matter of who was available for a show. I do know these were musicians and they wanted to play. I never knew Toy when he was not in a band.
Toy and I were married September 12, 1969, after dating 3 months. During our marriage, there was always band practice a couple of times a week, and hopefully a job for the weekend. Toy and I both were employed full time Mon-Friday. Toy was employed by Spartanburg Water Works.
In 1970, Tommy enlisted in the Marines, and after completing boot camp, he received a medical discharge. I remember being home and Toy was at practice when someone knocked on the door. It was Tommy. I hugged him, he had surprised us all. He went to find Toy, who was at band practice. During boot camp is the only time Toy did not play in a band with Tommy. As soon as Tommy returned, there was no question Toy would be with Tommy in a band.
George McCorkle had also returned from serving in the US Navy about the time Toy had. George and I had been friends for many years and remained so throughout the years.
I was not at band rehearsals, I remember many names mentioned David Haddox, Carrol Cox, David Ezell.
The Toy Factory wanted to sing original material, but they had to do some covers in the beginning. A lot happened between Tommy’s return and going to Macon, Georgia in May 1972. The Toy Factory did open up for the Allman Bros Band in Oct. 1970. Wet Willie had a huge influence in getting them to make the trip to Macon, Ga.
In May 1972, they did play at Grant’s Lounge. Phil Walden and Frank Fenter of Capricorn records made a late appearance, and told them if they wanted to sign a contract to be in his office on Monday. Toy and Tommy drove me home because I had to be at work on Monday. Spartanburg Water Works had been great in giving Toy some time off. They were very supportive.
I remember standing in the driveway with Toy’s mother, she had her arm around me and I was all whiney and pregnant. She looked at me and said…”Don’t worry Ab they will not be gone long”. Toy turned around and looked at me and my whiney self, and said..”Ab, it’s a chance in a million but I gotta’ take it”. I’m glad Toy overlooked my selfishness for that chance with Phil Walden. I never could have imagined what was ahead of us.
After signing with Capricorn, Toy continued working for the Water Works as long as their insurance could cover him, since he was now part time. Working at the Water Works and driving to Macon at night to record. Our baby was three weeks late, I did however work through her due date, which was October 13. She was born on November 1 and Toy was home with me.
Tommy did talk to Phil Walden about an advance in money, especially since Toy had a newborn to support now. I had gone back to work when the baby was 4 weeks old, but quit when I could not get a $20 raise to find someone proper to take care of the baby. During those four weeks I did work, I would take the baby to Mrs. Caldwell before I went to work at 8am and pick her up after work at 5pm. If Toy was not in the studio he would help me.
I have letters from Toy that he wrote me while in the studio. He would call one time a week; we would set up a day and time and I would be there to get that call. Calling home everyday would not happen until many years later when we could afford it.