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Marley Brant

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Member Since: May, 2006

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Publisher:  Billboard Books Type: 


Copyright:  1999

Barnes &
Southern Rockers: The Roots and Legacy of Southern Rock

A biography of Southern Rock groups including the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker Band, .38 Special and others.

Southern Rock groups have captured the imaginations of millions of diehard rock and roll fans with their charismatic, hard-driving musical rebellion. The Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Marshall Tucker Band, The Charlie Daniels Band, Wet Willie, The Outlaws, .38 Special, Grinderswitch, Blackfoot...all have knocked the music world off its feet with soulful, primal rhythm anthems to good times, hard times, wild living, romance, heartbreak, stoic independence, and gentle Southern landscapes.

 Southern Rock is alive, well, and, most definitely, here to stay. Southern Rockers: The Roots and Legacy of Southern Rock takes you inside the histories of the artists who bring us this eclectic and captivating music.

On Southern Rock:

"It was The Allman Brothers Band, which is kind of a blues band. Lynyrd Skynyrd, which is a pure rock band. Marshall Tucker Band, which was kind of a country sort of band. And us, which were lost out in the ozone somewhere. I think basically where the cohesiveness came was that most of the people that were involved in it all came from the same type background. About the same type financial background, the same type of educational background and social background. We had a close camaraderie with each other." - Charlie Daniels

"I don't know who came up with that [term]. Some journalist somewhere, I think. Somebody in the record business or somebody in the retail business. Somebody that worked at Tower Recors or something just gave us a slot. But it wasn't any of us." - Gregg Allman, The Allman Brothers Band

"Obviously the influences were the blues. But for a new generation and a different twist on the music, they kind of redefined these stories. They were stories from the South, and there was intrigue. Whether you lived in New England or whether you lived on the West Coast, or wherever, you heard these stories about swamps and snakes and gators and drinking. It was almost like reading a Zane Gray novel. Wow, what a cool place or what a strange place this is. You don't want to go down there. These stories have been told a million times, but they all of a sudden came into the mainstream of rock music and people heard 'em on the radio." Jeff Carlisi, .38 Special

"It's like saying that because you're from the South you sound a certain way, which in some cases is true. But it's like saying that everyone from Seattle sounds the same, and that's definately not true because Hendrix is from Seattle and so is Kurt Cobain." - Warren Hayes, The Allman Brothers Band/Gov't Mule

"I feel that some people have more of a stereotypical image of it. Of the Confederate flag waving, cowboy hat wearing, more redneck kind of bands, of having that image. But overall, I'm proud of it, today, that term. And I'm proud to be associated with it. The emphasis is on good songs. If you look at what it is to grow up in the South, the family values, the spititual side...the Bible Belt is part of our heritage, interracial interaction, the black culture, the love of the land...all those things make it what it was and what it still is." - Jimmy Hall, Wet Willie

"I care for these people, and I respect them. They are strange kids and yet they look on me with love. There's a closeness I feel to these young people." - Former President Jimmy Carter

"I don't care if somebody wants to say I'm Southern Rock. I'm proud of that. But to me there's only two kinds of music. And that's good and bad, honest and fabricated." - Dru Lombar, Grinderswitch

Professional Reviews

Popular Music and Society
Marley Brant's Southern Rockers: The Roots and Legacy of Southern Rock is the first comprehensive history of southern rock, a genre whose artists have, on occasion, been labeled "redneck bands" and, as a result, found their role in rock history minimized. With Southern Rockers, Brant attempts to correct these oversights. Proceeding chronologically, she examines the musicians, exploring the origins and evolution (and finances) of southern rock as well as the recording sessions, popular songs, and tours. Interwoven into this history are the biographies of the major bands and artists, beginning with the births of Duane and Gregg Allman and ending in the present, with a glance into the future. Brant also calls attention to the central role of Phil Walden and Capricorn Records. The study provides minimal criticism--a point Brant explains at the outset--only enough to create a context for the story.

The task Brant sets before herself is a formidable one. Brant covers a number of bands--major acts like the Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker, Wet Willie, Charlie Daniels, Blackfoot, and the Atlanta Rhythm Section--as well as solo acts (e.g., Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, Toy Caldwell), off-shoots (e.g., Sea Level, Gov't Mule), and second-generation bands (e.g., Molly Hatchet, the Outlaws, .38 Special, and OKB). It's immediately apparent, though, that Brant is knowledgeable about this subject and has done her homework, as seen in the number of interviews she's conducted with artists and fans. (Always clear is Brant's knowledge of both southern rock and the music business: She has been employed in entertainment for the last 20 years as a producer, artist development executive, and writer--her previous books are, primarily, biographies of Old West outlaws). Particularly impressive is Brant's use of southern rock's shared love of the blues as well as southern notions of family/community and independence to give Southern Rockers a thematic unity that ties together artists with disparate musical styles. And she tells the whole story: artist successes (e.g., the rise of the Allman Brothers) and their struggles (e.g., Gregg's drug and legal problems as well as the squabbles of the band).

Brant also reveals the down-to-earth nature of Southern rock bands. For example, the songs of Lynyrd Skynyrd (whom she asserts was not “a manufactured band”) “represented commitment to honorable living and the righteousness found in a deep commitment to family” amidst the group’s occasional paeans to rowdy good times and drinking. Indeed, many of these Southern rockers did seem to be a family-oriented bunch who never really lost sight of their roots. Doug Gray of the Marshall Tucker Band explains his band’s penchant for living in its native Spartanburg, SC during its off time as a means “to touch reality. And reality is being able to go over to the neighborhood grocery store or the drug store, walk in and seeing people you went to high school with, because they make you realize you’re no big deal.”

The author doesn’t shy away from the darker side of these success stories such as the escalating tensions among members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, which gave name to 1975’s “The Torture Tour,” or the hard road to physical and emotional recovery for the survivors of the group’s fatal 1977 plane crash. Though the dawn of the ’80s saw dwindling record sales for the Southern bands in general, many continued to record long after their commercial peak. Today, they have proven to be a surprisingly resilient bunch, with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charlie Daniels and Marshall Tucker vowing to never retire—thus keeping the sound of the South alive and kicking for a loyal contingent of new and old fans alike.

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