The musician had been a founding member of the band since 1967.

By Andrea Towers
April 16, 2021 at 09:05 AM EDT
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Rusty Young
Credit: Timothy Norris/WireImage

Rusty Young, a founding member of the country-rock band Poco, died on Thursday at the age of 75. A spokesperson for the band confirmed that the cause of death was a heart attack.

In a statement given to PEOPLE, Poco co-founder Richie Furay said, "I just received word that my friend Rusty Young has passed away and crossed that line into eternity. My heart is saddened; he was a dear and longtime friend who help me pioneer and create a new Southern California musical sound called 'country rock.' He was an innovator on the steel guitar and carried the name Poco on for more than 50 years. Our friendship was real and he will be deeply missed. My prayers are with his wife, Mary, and his children Sara and Will."

In 1967, following an invitation from Furary to play steel guitar on Buffalo Springfield's final album, Young helped form Poco with Furary and Jim Messina. They were later joined by George Grantham. Since its inception, the band has had 12 different members, which allowed Young to play with some of the most classic rock n' roll musicians in the industry including Randy Meisner, Timothy B. Schmit, Jack Sundrund, George Lawrence, Michael Webb and Paul Cotton. Young, a multi-talented "jack-of-all-trades" whose skills included singing and playing the pedal steel guitar, banjo, Dobro, guitar, and mandolin, remained the band's constant frontman for many years. He eventually took over singer/songwriter duties and propelled Poco into stardom when he wrote "Crazy Love," the band's only #1 top 10 hit.

In 1974, Young was inducted into the Guitar Player's Magazine "Gallery of Greats" and in 2012, he was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame.

"Rusty was the most unpretentious, caring and idyllic artist I have ever worked with, a natural life force that he consistently poured into his music," said Poco's long-time manager Rick Alter in a statement to PEOPLE. "To fans and fellow musicians alike, he was a once-in-a-lifetime musician, songwriter, performer and friend."

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