Southern rock  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Southern rock is a subgenre of rock music. It developed in the Southern United States from rock and roll, country music, and blues, and is focused generally on electric guitar and vocals.

1950s and 1960s – origins

Rock music's origins lie mostly in the music of Southerners, and many stars from the first wave of 1950s rock and roll such as Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Bo Diddley and Jerry Lee Lewis hailed from the Deep South. But the British Invasion, and the rise of folk rock and psychedelic rock in the middle 1960s, shifted the focus of new rock music away from the rural south and to large cities like Liverpool, London, Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco.

In the late 1960s, traditionalists such as Creedence Clearwater Revival (from Northern California), and The Band (Canadian, though drummer Levon Helm is a native Arkansan) revived interest in the roots of rock. See Muscle Shoals Music.

1970s – peak of popularity

Attention once again turned to bands from the American South. The Allman Brothers Band from Macon, Georgia made their national d├ębut in 1969 and soon gained a loyal following. Their blues-rock sound on one hand incorporated long jams informed by jazz and classical music, and on the other hand drew from native elements of country and folk. The death of guitarist and leader Duane Allman in 1971 did not prevent them from gaining popularity for the next several years, until internal tensions broke them apart after 1976. Because a certain type of blues music, and essentially, rock and roll, was invented in the South, Gregg Allman has commented that "Southern rock" is a redundant term; it's like saying "rock rock."

The Allman Brothers were signed to Capricorn Records, a small Macon label headed by Phil Walden (former manager of Otis Redding). Similar acts recorded on Capricorn, including the Marshall Tucker Band from Spartanburg, South Carolina, Wet Willie from Alabama, Chaz Van Gogh from Mississippi, Grinderswitch from Georgia (and composed of Allman Brothers' roadies), and the Elvin Bishop Band from Oklahoma.

Loosely associated with this first wave of Southern rock were acts like Barefoot Jerry from Tennessee and the Charlie Daniels Band from Tennessee. Charlie Daniels, a big-bearded fiddler with a knack for novelty songs, gave Southern rock its self-identifying anthem with his 1975 hit, "The South's Gonna Do It", whose lyrics mentioned all of the above bands, proclaiming: "Be proud you're a rebel / 'Cause the South's gonna do it again." A year earlier, Daniels had started the Volunteer Jam, an annual Southern rock-themed concert held in Tennessee. The Winters Brothers Band from Franklin, Tenn. was a band Charlie Daniels helped to get started with "Sang Her Love Songs", "Smokey Mountain Log Cabin Jones," and more. They still perform and hold an annual festival in Nolensville, Tennessee every year.

In the early 1970s, another wave of hard rock Southern groups emerged. Their music emphasized boogie rhythms and fast guitar leads more aligned with hard rock and heavy metal, along with lyrics concerning the values, aspirations - and excesses - of Southern working-class young adults, not unlike the outlaw country movement. Also mentioned in "The South's Gonna Do It", Lynyrd Skynyrd of Jacksonville, Florida dominated this genre until the deaths of lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and other members of the group in a 1977 airplane crash. After this tragic plane crash, members Allen Collins and Gary Rossington started The Rossington-Collins Band. Groups such as ZZ Top, .38 Special, Outlaws, Molly Hatchet, Blackfoot, Point Blank, Black Oak Arkansas, and the Edgar Winter Group also thrived in this genre.

The Allman Brothers Southern feel came more from the temperament of its music ("Hot 'Lanta", "Little Martha", interpolations of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken") than any explicit cultural identification. Phil Walden, the Allman Brothers, and other Capricorn artists had also played a part in Jimmy Carter's campaign for the presidency; Carter claimed to be a fan of the Allman Brothers.Template:Fact Even within the Skynyrd branch of Southern rock, the appearance of Molly Hatchet on the dance-oriented show Solid Gold hinted at the wider level of popularity Southern rock had achieved.

Not all Southern rock artists fit into the above molds. The Atlanta Rhythm Section and the Amazing Rhythm Aces were more focused on vocal harmonies, Louisiana's Le Roux ranged from Cajun-flavored Southern boogie early on to a more arena rock sound later on, while the Dixie Dregs and Allman Brothers' offshoot Sea Level explored jazz fusion.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Southern rock" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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