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Longtime Poco singer/guitarist Paul Cotton dead at age 78

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Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Former Poco singer/guitarist Paul Cotton, who was one of the influential country-rock act’s main songwriters during his long tenure with the band, has died.

According to a post on his official Facebook page, Cotton “passed away unexpectedly, peacefully” at the age 78.

Cotton joined Poco in 1970, replacing founding member Jim Messina, in time to contribute to the band’s third studio album, 1971’s From the Inside.

After founding singer/guitarist Richie Furay left Poco in 1973, Cotton co-led the group with singer/pedal-steel player Rusty Young until 1987, when Paul exited the band. Among the many songs Cotton wrote for the Poco were “Indian Summer,” “Under the Gun” and “Heart of the Night,” the latter of which reached #20 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Cotton rejoined the band in 1991 and continued to play with them until 2010. He also released for solo studio albums, the most recent of which, 100% Paul Cotton, came out in 2014.

In 2015, Cotton was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame as a member of Poco and he reunited to perform with many of his former band mates at the ceremony.

Cotton’s Facebook page reports that a private and public celebration of his life and tribute concert will be held during the last week of January in Key West, Florida, where he and his wife resided for many years.

Paul’s death comes less than four months after the passing of Young, who died of a heart attack at age 75 in April.

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