Jacksonville and the Roots of Southern Rock
Michael Ray FitzGerald
Florida Book Awards, Bronze Medal for Florida Nonfiction
The enduring achievement and legacy of a rock movement
“[An] enjoyable book that’s part memoir and part music history. . . . Offers entertaining glimpses into the development of a music scene and music style.”—No Depression
“Fun and informative. . . . Fans of southern rock will appreciate Fitzgerald’s entertaining survey.”—Publishers Weekly
“Finally Jacksonville is recognized for its role as the source for some of the greatest recorded American rock and roll. FitzGerald’s book launches a hundred guitar-crunching earworms. Maybe Skynyrd should have called its song ‘Sweet Home Florida.’”—William McKeen, author of Everybody Had an Ocean: Music and Mayhem in 1960s Los Angeles
“At long last, we have a detailed account of not only the beginnings of Jacksonville’s pride, Lynyrd Skynyrd, but also the seeds that were planted to grow The Allman Brothers Band, Cowboy, Molly Hatchet, and all of the other greats of southern rock. Jacksonville and the Roots of Southern Rock tops my list of must-read books for anyone looking to discover the very roots of the music.”—Michael Buffalo Smith, author of The Road Goes on Forever: Fifty Years of The Allman Brothers Band Music (1969–2019)
“Deftly illuminates the backstories of several rock bands with deep roots in Jacksonville, including The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, 38 Special, and Molly Hatchet, all with platinum record sales. Insights into the concept of southern rock include the influence of Elvis, Gram Parsons, and Ray Charles in this informative and enlightening music history.”—Marty Jourard, author of Music Everywhere: The Rock and Roll Roots of a Southern Town
The Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd helped usher in a new kind of southern music from Jacksonville, Florida. Together, they and fellow bands like Blackfoot, 38 Special, and Molly Hatchet would reset the course of seventies rock. Yet Jacksonville seemed an unlikely hotbed for a new musical movement.
Michael FitzGerald blends eyewitness detail with in-depth history to tell the story of how the River City bred this generation of legendary musicians. As he profiles essential bands alongside forerunners like Gram Parsons and Cowboy, FitzGerald reveals how the powerful local AM radio station worked with newspapers and television stations to nurture talent. Media attention in turn created a public hungry for live performances by area bands. What became the southern rock elite welded relentless determination to a ferocious work ethic, honing their gifts on a testing ground that brooked no weakness and took no prisoners.
FitzGerald looks at the music as the diverse soundtrack to a neo-southern lifestyle that reconciled different segments of society in Jacksonville, and across the nation, in the late sixties and early seventies. A vivid journey into a crucible of American music, Jacksonville and the Roots of Southern Rock shines a light on the artists and songs that powered a phenomenon.
Michael Ray FitzGerald is a media historian, musician, and former journalist based in Jacksonville, Florida.
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