I decided to rank my own favorite Top Southern Rock Bands with some added personal memories. Forgive me if your favorite is not named, but this list goes to eleven.
1) The Allman Brothers Band – Before he died, Duane Allman sure kicked a lot of musical butt. He was an early one of “The Swampers” in Muscle Shoals, and I always pictured Duane as a quiet, amazingly cool musician. Gregg, however, always struck me as a spoiled, bratty little kid who pestered the crap out of everybody. Like that kid who always annoyed you, but stayed just out of your reach so you could never catch him.
2) Lynyrd Skynyrd – I dare anybody to nominate a song that is requested more in bars than “Free Bird.” There is an underground musical legend about a magical jam session between Skynyrd (right before they left for their tragic tour) and the group Alabama that was recorded in Muscle Shoals, but lost. Many people claim to have heard the tape, but nobody has a copy.
3) Marshall Tucker Band – The Caldwell brothers, Toy and Tommy, left us way too soon. In my ears, Marshall Tucker and Lynyrd Skynyrd perfected two different sides of the same sound, and there are a lot of similarities in their music.
4) Charlie Daniels Band – I cut my CDB teeth on “Uneasy Rider,” but “The South’s Gonna Do It Again,” will always be my favorite. Oh, and “Long-Haired Country Boy.”
5) .38 Special – Good grief, it’s Donnie Van Zant’s band. What else do you need to know?
6) The Outlaws – I know everybody loves “Green Grass and High Tides,” but it doesn’t get any better than their cover of “Ghost Riders.” Chills and goose bumps, baby.
7) ZZ Top – When I was a kid playing in the surf at Panama City Beach, I used to ride the waves while singing a repeating drum beat in my head over and over. It was just something I made up. Years later, I was pleasantly surprised in high school to hear “Velcro Fly” for the first time as I immediately recognized my old PCB drum beat had come to life in Southern Rock.
8) Molly Hatchet – I once heard Larry the Cable Guy say that they wanted to get a Molly Hatchet cover band to play their high school reunion, but it turned out to be cheaper to just hire Molly Hatchet.
9) Atlanta Rhythm Section – The 60’s pop group Classic IV replaced lead singer Dennis Yost and drummer Kim Venable, and turned into the great Atlanta Rhythm Section. Which explains why an ARS concert includes both “So Into You” and “Spooky.”
10) Wet Willie – These one-hit wonders from Mobile earned a spot on my list because even after 40 years, I STILL can’t get “Keep On Smilin’,” out of my head.
11) Blackfoot – Their appeal has always been on AOR success instead of being any kind of hit factory. The harmonica opening of “Train, Train,” will turn you into a howling werewolf.