The longest standing member of the Marshall Tucker Band died on Saturday. Stuart Swanlund, guitarist for the group since 1985, passed away in his sleep. He had been taking a hiatus from the band to deal with health issues.

Founding member Doug Gray remembers Swanlund as the heart of the band on stage. “Stuart’s enthusiasm onstage never wavered,” he said in a press release. ”Our thoughts and prayers are with Stuart’s family and those who knew him. We have lost a great friend.”

While Swanlund joined the group after they enjoyed their greatest commercial success with songs like ‘Can’t You See’ and ‘Heard It in a Love Song,’ — the latter of which charted on country charts as well — he later added a memorable slide guitar to some old hits, as well as newer material. The group’s 1987 song ‘Hangin’ Out in Smokey Places’ was the highest-charting song from the band on country charts, peaking at No. 44.

Gray says one of Swanlund’s career highlights was playing the Grand Ole Opry last winter. The group frequently played southern rock and country festivals — often with the Charlie Daniels Band — and their sound was a heavy influence on young country singers of today, especially those growing up below the Mason-Dixon.

Swanlund, or “Stubie,” as he was known to friends, leaves behind his life-long partner Stacey Schmaren and a son named Billy. He also has three grandchildren and one sister. Services for the Marshall Tucker Band guitarist will be held this Saturday (Aug. 11) in Boiling Springs, S.C., just outside is hometown of Spartanburg, S.C.

More From Y95 Country