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Southern Rock Bands of the 70's
Southern Rocks !
For those of us who were born in the 50’s, the southern rock of the 70’s catapulted us into young adults who thought life was one big party. Those long haired hippies who rocked our stereos represented rebellion, hell-raising, and yes, even love. There was plenty of love to go around back hen and even the hardest southern rockers could sing us a love song with the same intensity as the more upbeat tunes. Ask any of us and you will find nothing but good memories associated with southern rock bands of the 70’s.
Well,,, time passes and things change. Many radio stations have replaced southern rock with alternative rock, Indie rock, or country rock. Every now and then, one of them will play one of those good old toe-tapping, sing at the top of your lungs southern rock songs. When it happens do you find yourself wondering "where are they now"? Let’s find out.
Tge Allman Brothers Band - Midnight Rider
The Allman Brothers Band
Any article about the great southern rockers has to start with "The Allman Brothers Band - the best of the best in southern rock. With hits like Blue Sky, Melissa, One Way Out, and Whipping Post, they quickly climbed to stardom for their raw talent both acoustically and plugged in.
The band was formed in 1969 by brothers Duane and Greg Allman. Shortly after breaking onto the commercial market, the band was struck by the tragic death of brother Duane in a motorcycle accident. Drugs and personality conflicts plagued the band and resulted in multiple make-overs through the years. In 1987 the Allman Brothers Band officially dissolved but it didn’t last long. In 1989, the band reunited for a 20th anniversary tour. In 1995 the Allman Brothers Band was inducted into he Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Although members Warren Haynes and Dickey Betts have come and gone over the years, the Allman Brothers Band is still alive and well. They recently launched the “Late Fall 2013 Tour” and have events scheduled for 2014. After 40 years of both tragedy and success, the Allman Brothers Band is proof that Southern Rock can bridge generations. Great music never dies.
The Allman Brothers Band still tours together but has not released a new album since 2004. The members all have busy solo careers and are still making music with that touch of good old southern rock and roll.
The Doobie Brothers - South City Midnight Lady
The Doobie Brothers
They began by calling themselves “Pud”. The year was 1969 when drummer John Hartman and guitarist Tom Johnston met guitarist Skip Spence of Moby Grape. The trio formed the perfect storm of talent and ambition. Enter bass player Dave Shogren and singer, guitarist and songwriter Patrick Simmons. Simmons and “The Doobie Brothers” were born in 1970. After a rocky start, the band began to see success after the release of their second album titled “Toulouise Street” in 1972. Like many bands of the time, The Doobie Brothers had their struggles. The failing health of their primary singer/songwriter (Tom Johnston) made their future uncertain until – Michael McDonald arrived on the scene. McDonald’s signature voice was the missing piece and The Doobie Brothers began to rock the charts of classic/southern rock.
The Doobie Brothers reveled in success until the early 80’s in spite of the stress of touring and the personal struggles of some members who desired solo careers. The personnel changes became synonymous with the Doobie Brothers but they still kept making great music. With none of the original members remaining, the future of the group was uncertain. Their signature sound was gone and in 1982, they hit the road for their “Farewell” tour.
In 1987, eleven previous members of the Doobie Brothers came together for a concert for Veteran’s causes and The Doobie Brothers were reborn. The early 90’s brought more change to the group with one more breakup and yet another reunion. Although various health problems, accidents, and legal issues, have challenged The Doobie Brothers, they have been touring consistently since 1993. The lineup of members continues to change but they have gotten back to their signature sound which gave hits like Long Train Runnin’, Listen to the Music, South City Midnight Lady, and China Grove staying power. To their credit, the group still resonates in the hearts and minds of all who love that southern rock sound.
The Outlaws - Knoxville Girl
Formed in 1967 by guitarist–vocalist Hughie Thomasson, drummer David Dix, bassist Phil Holmberg, guitarists Hobie O'Brien and Frank Guidry, plus singer Herb Pino they were first known as The Rogues and then “The Four Letter Words. When Frank Guidry joined the group, he brought the name “The Outlaws” with him from a previous band with that name. By 1968, the band had already experienced a major personnel change. In 1968 they had their first album recorded but it was never released. History would repeat itself in 1969 when their second album never made it to release. It seemed success was not in the starts for this group. Finally, in 1974, The Outlaws luck changed and they were the first band to be signed to Arista Records under the hand of the master, Clive Davis.
Like many southern rock bands of the time, The Outlaws strutted the talent of dual lead guitars but what set them apart was a little hint of country influence and their amazing three and four part harmonies.
The Outlaws have followed in the footsteps of many southern rock bands and have reinvented themselves many times over the years. Sadly, their signature sound took a hit and they lost their popularity in the mid 80’s. Unwilling to give up, the band has continued to perform in smaller venues, still rocking to their hits of the 70’s with tunes like Green Grass High Tides, There Goes Another Love Song, Kentucky Girl, and Song For You. Their last release came in 2012 with the album titled its About Pride.
Marshall Tucker Band - Can't You See
The Marshall Tucker Band
With early beginnings in Spartanburg, South Carolina during the early 70's, the Marshall Tucker Band touts of 40 year history of performing continuously. Their celebrity status dminished by the end of the decade but it did not keep this group from making great music and energizing crowds. Like many southern rock groups, the member lineup has changed over the years but the talent never wavered. Marshall Tucker Band is probably best known for it's harmony and the keyboard, flute and guitar solos that thrill fans and newcomers alike.
Representing Capricorn Records, the founding members of Marshall Tucker were lead guitarist, vocalist, and primary songwriter Toy Caldwell , vocalist Doug Gray ( keyboard player, saxophone player, and flutist Jerry Eubanks, rhythm guitarist George McCorkle, drummer Paul Riddle, and bassist Tommy Caldwell. By the mid 80's most of the founders were gone due to tragedy or, to pursue other interests.
Marshall Tucker Band is probably best known for the song "Can't You See" that appeared on their debut album in 1973. "Searching For a Rainbow" from their 1975 release, and "Fire on the Mountain" also became signature songs from their five consecutive gold albums.
In 1980, tragedy struck when Tommy Caldwell died from injuries he received in an automobile accident. Franklin Willie stepped into Caldwell's shoes but the band never regained the popularity experienced in the 70's. The band reinvented themselves many times over, crossed over into a more country rock genre, and continued to perform over 200 shows a year throughout the 80's, 90's released it's 30th studio album in 2013 titled "Live! From Spartanburg, South Carolina".
Were you a fan of southern rock music in the 70's?
Tell us about your experience here.
Looking back at the southern rockers from the 70's evokes both happy memories and feelings of sadness. For groups that had so much talent, they were often riddled with tragedy, loss, and instability. One thing is certain though - if you were a fan in the 70's, you are still a fan today.
We have only scratched the surface here. There are many more great southern rock bands from the 70's. Bands like Poco, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Molly Hatchet, Black Oak Arkansas, and Pure Prairie League will be covered in future articles. Until then, pull out those vinyl albums or download the mp3's from your favorite site. This is feel good music at its best and if you turn the volume up, chances are you'll find yourself tapping your toes and smiling.
Until next time - enjoy a little sample of what's to come with Poco's Rose of Cimmaron from the 70's.
Part 2 has been written. Click below!
- Southern Rock Bands of the 70's - Part 2
Southern Roak music of the 70's had a way of making you feel good. Whether listening to a CD or the radio, southern rock has a way of just making you tap your toes and sing along.
© 2013 Linda Crist