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Paul Cotton (1943–2021), guitarist with Poco

by Linnea Crowther

Paul Cotton was a guitarist, singer, and songwriter who was a longtime member of Poco.

Guitarist and songwriter

Cotton joined Poco in 1970, replacing founding guitarist Jim Messina. He became one of the group’s primary songwriters, composing songs including their 1979 hit single “Heart of the Night,” which he also sang. His other compositions for Poco include “Barbados,” “Indian Summer,” and “Bad Weather.” Cotton also sang co-lead vocals on songs including “Rose of Cimarron.” He remained with Poco for decades, taking a break of a few years in the late 1980s but rejoining and staying with the band until 2010. Cotton also released several solo albums, and prior to joining Poco, he co-founded the band Illinois Speed Press. Cotton’s death comes just a few months after the death of Poco bandmate Rusty Young (1946–2021).

Notable quote

“Poco fans have always been there for us. That’s what gets us through the 45 minute sets now, and the longer shows. We give it all we’ve got. We’re very thankful. The fans have been through it with us.” —from an interview for Sound Waves

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Tributes to Paul Cotton

Full obituary: Guitar World

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