Guitarist Stuart Swanlund died of natural causes in his sleep in Chicago on Saturday (Aug. 4), according to a press release.
Born in Puerto Rico in 1958 he was raised in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where he met his lifelong friend, Doug Gray, a founding member of the Marshall Tucker band.
Swanlund got his chance to play alongside Gray in 1985 when he joined the Marshall Tucker band, this after growing up listening to Grey practice across the street from where he lived.
In a prepared statement Gray said, “Stuart, or ‘Stubie’ as we called him, was the longest standing member of The Marshall Tucker Band from 1985, onward. He recently took a hiatus from the road due to health problems and even with those issues, Stuart’s enthusiasm onstage never waivered. Our thoughts and prayers are with Stuart’s family and those who knew him. We have lost a great friend.”
Gray said that one of the highlight’s of Swanlund’s time with the band just happened last winter when he performed onstage at the Grand Ole Opry’s historic Ryman Auditorium.
Gray says the news is devastating.
“The thing I’ll miss the most is he always had a smile on his face, and others walked away from him with a smile,” he added. “He played that way. His inspiration came from just being a wonderful guy on the inside. His personality was so big. He was like a flower. He just blossomed at every show.”
He is survived by his lifelong partner, Stacy Schmaren, son, William “Billy” Swanlund, three grandchildren and sister, Suzanne Spencer.