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Fabulous Flip Sides In Memoriam Poco’s Paul Cotton

Remembering Poco’s lead guitarist Paul Cotton, the second member of the iconic country rock group to pass away this year
Paul Cotton, 1975, photo Michael Ochs, Getty Images

Paul Cotton, 1975, photo Michael Ochs, Getty Images

Poco’s Paul Cotton passed away August 1 at age 78, just a few months after the passing of his bandmate Rusty Young. Cotton joined the country rock band in 1970, after the departure of Jim Messina, who went on to ultimately form Loggins & Messina with Kenny Loggins. Messina stated, “Paul Cotton was a special musical kindred brother. We spent time together before he joined Poco and indeed gave me a great honor when he filled my position. May he, this very kindhearted soul, rest in peace.”

Cotton’s first album with Poco was 1971’s From the Inside, composing three songs for the record. His Top 100 singles debut, as a composer, happened in 1977, with the gentle title song from Poco’s Indian Summer album. Late the following year, the group’s Legend album was released, which included Poco’s first Top 40 hit single, “Crazy Love,” written by Rusty Young. Its flip side, “Barbados,” written by Cotton, was filled with nautical escapism.

Paul Cotton flip side


Flip side: Barbados

A side: Crazy Love

Top 100 debut: January 20, 1979

Peak position: 17

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The second single from the Legend album also reached the Top 20, “Heart of the Night,” written and sung by Cotton, with more water imagery, and inspired by his love of New Orleans. In 1980, two more of his compositions reached the Top 100. First was the title song from the group’s next album Under the Gun, a John Fogerty-like up-tempo rocker, followed by the ballad “Midnight Rain,” also from the album. In 1984, Cotton’s steady tempo “Days Gone By,” the opening number from the group’s Inamorata album, also reached the Top 100 singles chart. Paul Cotton left Poco later in the decade and recorded five solo albums from 1990 through 2014’s 100% Paul Cotton.

Paul Cotton,

Paul Cotton,

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