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Rusty Young (1946–2021), guitarist and founding member of Poco

by Linnea Crowther

Rusty Young was a guitarist, singer, and songwriter who was a founding member of the country rock band Poco, known for hits including “Crazy Love.”


Young joined former members of Buffalo Springfield in 1968 to form Poco. He played pedal steel guitar on the new group’s gentle country rock, including the 1979 hit “Crazy Love,” which Young also wrote and sang lead vocals on. It reached the Top 40 and became a No. 1 hit on adult contemporary radio. Later hits included 1979’s “Heart of the Night” and 1989’s “Call it Love.” Young remained with Poco as other members came and went, and he was the only member who was with the band from its inception until its final live shows in 2020. He was an innovator of pedal steel guitar, adding various effects to create new sounds from the instrument.

Notable quote

“You have to remember that in 1969, there weren’t synthesizers, so if you actually wanted a certain sound, you had to have a real musician playing. So that’s why I got involved — because I could play steel guitar and Dobro and banjo and mandolin, and pretty much all the country instruments except for fiddle. So I added color to Richie’s country-rock songs, and that was the whole idea, to use country-sounding instruments. Also, I pushed the envelope on steel guitar, playing it with a fuzz tone, because nobody was doing that, and playing it through a Leslie speaker like an organ, and a lot of people thought I was playing an organ, because they didn’t realize I was playing a steel guitar.” —from a 2014 interview wth Goldmine


Tributes to Rusty Young

Full obituary: Variety

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