Bonnie Bramlett, Charlie Daniels, publicist Mike Hyland, and Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Ed King reflect on the rise of the Southern rock movement in the 1970s. Held on October 29, 2011, at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the panel discussion marks the fortieth anniversary of the death of Allman Brothers Band leader Duane Allman.
The program begins with a clip of the Charlie Daniels Band performing “The South’s Gonna Do It Again” in 1975. Daniels tells the Museum’s Michael McCall that people of his generation would likely consider it a blues song. Citing artists with a similar musical approach, Daniels adds, “I’ve never seen Southern rock as a particular genre of music. . . . I saw it as a genre of people.”
A member of the celebrated duo Delaney & Bonnie, Bonnie Bramlett speaks about the integration of black and white musicians happening in the Southern rock recording scene. Hyland reveals the origin of the term “Southern rock,” tracing it back to journalist Mo Slotin.
Daniels admits he never gave a thought about the casual look that came to exemplify Southern rock bands, with King adding that Lynyrd Skynyrd would usually perform in whatever clothes they put on earlier that day.
In the middle of the program, the panelists speak about their early interest in music. King remembers his time with the band Strawberry Alarm Clock and his work with Lynyrd Skynrd’s lyricist Ronnie Van Zant. Daniels explains how he came to Nashville in 1967 with barely any money, then preaches about the importance of work ethic. He also talks about a jam session with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, and drummer Russ Kunkel.
Bramlett remembers the life-changing moment, at age twelve, when she saw Mahalia Jackson perform, and fondly recalls her friendship with Duane Allman. She also elaborates on her place, as a woman, in the Southern rock landscape.
Hyland describes the way he became part of the Southern rock scene as a publicist, briefly representing the Fillmore East, and his eventual move to Macon, Georgia, where Capricorn Records was based.
King tells the story of how he came to co-write “Sweet Home Alabama,” the Southern rock anthem that he calls “a gift from God.” After a video clip, he notes that the guitar part came to him in a dream.
Daniels talks about the popularity of the Volunteer Jam, an all-star show born out of a live recording session. That concert series went on to be staged at War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville multiple times. “In the ’70s and ’80s, those were the best shows you could go to,” host McCall says.
Near the end of the event, Charlie Daniels talks about his support of Jimmy Carter, and says that he was proud to be part of the former U.S. president’s campaign events. He also gives details about the inspiration behind his song “Uneasy Rider.”
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