Paul Cotton, Mainstay of the Nation-Rock Band Poco, Dies at 78

Paul Cotton, Mainstay of the Nation-Rock Band Poco, Dies at 78

Paul Cotton, the lead guitarist and frequent lead singer and songwriter for the country-rock band Poco, died on July 31 close to his summer time dwelling in Eugene, Ore. He was 78.

His spouse, Caroline Ford Cotton, mentioned he died unexpectedly however she didn’t cite a trigger. His demise got here lower than 4 months after that of Rusty Younger, Poco’s longtime metal guitarist.

Mr. Cotton joined Poco, changing the founding member Jim Messina in 1970, simply in time to seem on the group’s third studio album, “From the Inside” (1971). Produced by Steve Cropper, the guitarist with the Memphis R&B combo Booker T. & the MGs, the challenge signaled a brand new inventive route for the band, possibly nowhere a lot as on the three songs written by Mr. Cotton.

Rooted extra in rock and soul than within the nation and bluegrass that had hitherto been the group’s major influences, Mr. Cotton’s sinewy, blues-inflected guitar work and brooding baritone vocals on songs just like the ballad “Dangerous Climate” vastly expanded Poco’s emotional and stylistic palette.

“There was little question that he was the man to exchange Jimmy,” Richie Furay, who based the band with Mr. Messina and was its principal lead singer, mentioned about Mr. Cotton’s influence on the band in a 2000 interview with “We knew that he was bringing a bit of little bit of an edge to our sound, and we needed to be a bit of extra rock ’n’ roll sounding.”

Mr. Younger mentioned in the identical soundwaves piece, referring to Mr. Furay and Poco’s longtime drummer, George Grantham: “It’s important to bear in mind, we had some very excessive singing voices on the time. Paul had a a lot deeper voice, and he had that rock sound.”

Poco grew to become a serious affect on West Coast country-rock acts like Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles and, a technology later, on alternative-country bands just like the Jayhawks and Wilco.

Shaped in Los Angeles in 1968, the group initially consisted of Mr. Messina and Mr. Furay, each of them previously with the influential rock band Buffalo Springfield, together with Mr. Younger, Mr. Grantham and the bassist Randy Meisner, a future member of the Eagles. (Timothy B. Schmit, one other future Eagle, changed Mr. Meisner when he left the band in 1969.)

Mr. Furay departed in 1973, disillusioned over the group’s lack of success in contrast with that of his ex-bandmates in Crosby, Stills & Nash and the Eagles, particularly after the discharge of critically acclaimed however commercially disappointing Poco albums like “A Good Feeling to Know” (1972) and “Loopy Eyes” (1973).

Poco’s remaining members carried on with out Mr. Furay, with Mr. Cotton doing a lot of the singing and songwriting, till the group went on hiatus in 1977 and he and Mr. Younger went into the studio to file because the Cotton-Younger Band.

In 1978, ABC, the duo’s label, launched the recordings, made with British musicians who had accompanied pop hitmakers like Leo Sayer and Al Stewart, however insisted on crediting the band as Poco.

“Legend,” the album that resulted, yielded an unanticipated pair of hits, the band’s first and solely Prime 40 singles: the glittering “Loopy Love,” written and sung by Mr. Younger, which reached No. 1 on the grownup modern chart, and the equally burnished “Coronary heart of the Evening,” written and sung by Mr. Cotton. The album was licensed platinum for gross sales of 1 million copies.

Poco continued to tour and launch recordings into the 2000s, with Mr. Cotton, Mr. Younger and Mr. Grantham anchoring the lineup.

Norman Paul Cotton, the oldest of 5 kids, was born on Feb. 26, 1943, in Fort Rucker, Ala., within the southeast a part of the state. His father, Norman, owned a line of grocery shops. His mom, Edna, saved the books for the household enterprise. Younger Norm, as he was often known as the time, started enjoying guitar at 13.

When he was 16, the Cottons moved to Chicago, the place he attended Thornton Township Excessive Faculty. Whereas there he began a band, finally often known as the Rovin’ Form, that launched a number of singles and appeared on “American Bandstand.”

In 1968, after seeing them carry out at a membership in Chicago, the producer James William Guercio, finest identified for his work with the jazz-rock band Chicago, signed the group to Epic Data. Mr. Guercio suggested them to vary their identify and relocate to Los Angeles, the place they renamed themselves Illinois Velocity Press. Mr. Cotton started billing himself as Paul reasonably than Norm.

Illinois Velocity Press, with Mr. Cotton and Kal David as twin lead guitarists, launched a pair of roots-rock albums for Epic, to little business impact. Mr. Cotton was invited to affix Poco in 1970, shortly after the discharge of the band’s second and final album, “Duet.”

In addition to his spouse of 16 years, Mr. Cotton is survived by his sons, Chris and James; two brothers, David and Robert; two sisters, Carol and Colleen; and a grandson.

Mr. Cotton spent three a long time on and off with Poco and in addition launched a handful of solo albums between 1990 and 2014. An avid fisherman and sailor, he moved to Key West, Fla., in 2005.

Poco went via quite a few lineup modifications throughout its greater than 40 years in existence, however one of many constants, from Mr. Cotton’s arrival in 1970 till his retirement in 2010, was his partnership with Mr. Younger.

“There’s at all times been one thing there,” Mr. Cotton mentioned of his relationship with Mr. Younger in 2000.

Mr. Younger added: “He’s by no means misplaced that voice, or that nice guitar enjoying. I can depend on him. I wouldn’t need to do that with out him.”

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