OBITUARY: Tommy Talton

1949 — 2023

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Photo credit: TERRY ALLEN
TOMMY TALTON: 'A special, beautiful human being,' recalls Warren Haynes in a recent social media post.

Celebrated guitarist and singer/songwriter Tommy Talton passed away December 28 after a long bout with cancer. He was 74.

As a teenager growing up in Florida, Talton, born Frank Thomas Talton, played in a variety of bands. It was in 1969, when he joined fellow singer/songwriter Scott Boyer to form Cowboy in Jacksonville, Florida, that he began his rise to prominence. The two musicians remained the core of the band that had a revolving door of members during its existence, recording four well-received albums (Reach For The Sky (1970), 5’ll Getcha Ten (1971), Boyer and Talton: Cowboy (1974), and Cowboy (1977) for Macon’s Capricorn Records label, recording home to the Allman Brothers Band, Wet Willie, the Marshall Tucker Band, Hydra, and other bands that defined the term “Southern rock.” Latter-day music luminaries such as Randall Bramblett, Bill Stewart, and Chuck Leavell were either members of, or played on, Cowboy releases. All Music Guide calls them “one of Southern rock’s best-kept secrets.”

Bramblett posted on Facebook, acknowledging “He was truly one of the bravest and most compassionate people I’ve ever known. His struggle with cancer was epic but he never lost his positive attitude or his sense of humor. The world is a better place with the gifts of his music and spirit. … I’ll miss you always, Tommy T. Play on.”

CAPRICORN REVIVAL: Tommy Talton (center, with guitar) in Macon, GA, Dec. 3, 2019. PHOTO CREDIT: TERRY ALLEN

Cowboy famously opened for Gregg Allman’s 1973-74 solo tour, during which the band also served as members of Allman’s backing band. Cowboy had two tracks featured on The Gregg Allman Tour, the subsequent double live album from that now-legendary trek. One of them, “Where Can You Go,” an eight minute showcase of Talton’s slide guitar prowess, reflects the soul/blues side of the group’s sound.

Cowboy initially disbanded in 1977, but the two founders kept working together intermittently, resulting in Boyer and Talton: Cowboy Reunion 2010.  Boyer passed away in 2018 and a final album, 10’ll Getcha Twenty, appeared collecting recordings the two had made in 2007.

Talton lived and played extensively in Europe in the ‘90s but returned to the States, specifically Marietta, GA., in 2005. Most recently he was a key member of the Gregg Allman Band tribute shows that included other members from the original ‘70s lineup.

Talton recorded four solo studio albums and two live albums, Somewhere South of Eden (2017), his most recent. A benefit was held for him in August of this year to help defray medical expenses, as was a GoFundMe page that is still open.

Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.