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Music Storytellers - .38 SPECIAL (Edited 11/29/12 05:09PM by )
Music Storytellers - .38 SPECIAL <span style="font-size:12px;">(Edited 11/29/12 05:09PM by )</span> Photo

38 Special - 


Group formed in Jacksonville, FL, 1977; signed first recording contract with A&M Records, released .38 Special, 1977; released Special Delivery, 1978; released Wild-Eyed Southern Boys, which contained their first hit single "Hold on Loosely," 1981; released Numbers, 1986; Rock & Roll Strategy,1989, which included the top-ten single "Second Chance," their last hit song; composed soundtrack for the film Super Troopers, 2002.

Long-lived rock group .38 Special was formed in 1977 and is still together more than 25 years later. Best known for their hits "Hold on Loosely," "If I'd Been the One," and "Caught up in You," the band still has fans loyal to their distinctively Southern brand of rock 'n' roll. Formed by Donnie Van Zant, whose brother Ronnie was a founder of the band Lynyrd Skynyrd, .38 Special pumped out what a Rolling Stone writer called "the prototype of country-fried, down home, Southern style, rock 'n' roll." The band has had gold and platinum albums, top-ten hits, and sold-out stadium tours, and is still touring. The founding band members included Van Zant and Don Barnes on vocals and guitar, Jeff Carlisi on guitar, Ken Lyons on bass, Jack Grondin on drums, and Steve Brookins on drums.

In an interview with Scott Greene on the Gritz website, Carlisi recalled that the young members of the band often went to a bar called the Forest Inn to hear other musicians play. Because they were underage, they could not legally go into the club, so they begged the kitchen workers to let them sit in the kitchen and listen from there. "Over the course of time," Carlisi recalled, "we saw the Allman Brothers band form and take off. I think that was an inspiration to us all seeing them from the beginning and seeing them make it to the level we all wanted to reach."

The band members all lived within a few blocks of each other, and often grouped and regrouped informally, eventually coalescing as .38 Special. They signed a recording contract with A&M Records in 1977, which released their first, self-titled album that year and Special Delivery in 1978. Carlisi told Greene that although the band knew they had "something special ... the first two records were not very successful by record industry standards." Their third album, Rockin' Into the Night, released in 1979, had a single that hit the top 40.

In 1981 the group finally hit the big time with Wild Eyed Southern Boys, which included the top-40 song, "Hold on Loosely." Carlisi noted, "We really knew we had created something that was long lasting and that would stand the test of time." The following album, Special Forces, released in 1982, had two top-ten hits, "If I'd Been the One" and "Caught Up in You."

Their next two albums, Tour de Force (1983) and Strength in Numbers (1986) also did very well, although Rolling Stone writer Steve Futterman complained that they had lost their Southern edge and sounded more like a West Coast band. In 1989 they released Rock & Roll Strategy, which included their last hit song, "Second Chance," a single that spent time among the top ten and was the band's highest charting single.

In 1990 and 1991, .38 Special participated in a military tour sponsored by a cigarette company that took them to military bases all over the country. That kicked off a marathon 15-month tour that extended into 1992. Despite tough economic times, the band was heavily booked because they played in smaller venues rather than in expensive concert halls and arenas. Carlisi told Deborah Evans Price in Amusement Business, "A lot of the fans were telling us that because of the economy, and money being so tight, they had to make a choice between buying a concert ticket and buying the record." In order to help fans make both purchases, the band played less-expensive places where ticket prices were lower. "Last fall we saw a lot of bands that were unable to support themselves and had to go home," Carlisi continued. .38 Special, rather than folding, simply adapted to the changing times.

The band's agent at the time, Mark Spector, told Evans Price that the band had developed a good reputation and a loyal following because they gave good live performances, and had a series of successful songs. ".38 Special is one of a smallish group of American bands that has been able to endure on the basis of consistency." That's a fortunate thing, Carlisi told Evans Price, because, "[t]he primary thing is I love to play music. The whole band loves to play. We're happy to still be out there. It's what we live for."

In 1987 Don Barnes left the band and was replaced by Max Carl; Barnes returned to the group in May of 1992. The lineup now includes Larry Junstrom on bass, who formerly played with Lynyrd Skynyrd; Bobby Capps on the keyboards, who played in clubs all over Florida before joining the band and also fronts his own band, DownTime; Gary Moffatt on drums; as well as Van Zant on vocals and guitar; Barnes on vocals and guitar; and Danny Chauncey on guitar. Since Resolution, their comeback album released in 1997, they have released three more albums, one featuring Christmas songs.

Apart from .38 Special, Van Zant and his brother Johnny Van Zant have also collaborated on two albums, Brother to Brother and Van Zant II; in 2001, they went on their first tour as a team. Van Zant told Nick Marino in the Jacksonville, Florida, Times-Union, "This here is just a dream come true to get to go out and share the stage with my brother. What it really has allowed us to do is not only to make music together, but it's allowed us some time to actually just hang together as brothers and catch up on that."

In 2002 the band recorded the soundtrack for an independent film called Super Troopers that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Van Zant wrote on the group's website that the band continues to evolve as the years pass. "If we did the same thing over and over and over again, or like we did five years ago, it would be very boring for us. And I think as writers and musicians, we have matured."

Barnes added, "We'll just continue to grow and evolve into better songwriters.... And we will always tour if the fans are still with us. As long as it's still fun, we'll continue to do it. It's a great life to be able to see happy faces every night because of music that you've created. You can really take pride in what you do."

| Closed on 12/29/12 at 05:00PM
FanIQ Pts? No | Locker Room, Music | Multiple Choice Opinion Poll
13 Fans 
31%a. 10 (SOLID)
31%b. 7-9 (Liked them a lot)
23%c. 5-6 (Not bad)
8%d. 1-4 (No Interest / Never heard of them)
8%e. SUCKS

TOP COMMENT * * * * * * * * * * * *
#2 | 690 days ago

 I think they are a great band...  I guess maybe an older band ...                           yes

One of my favorite songs is   Caught Up In You
10 (SOLID)  
10 Comments | Sorted by Most Recent First | Red = You Disagreed
Vote for your favorite comments. Fans decide the Top Comment (3+ votes) and also hide poor quality comments (4+ votes).
#1 | 690 days ago

These guys were me and my friends cruising the park band.. Summer Sunday afternoons....good times heartyes
10 (SOLID)  
#2 | 690 days ago

 I think they are a great band...  I guess maybe an older band ...                           yes

One of my favorite songs is   Caught Up In You
10 (SOLID)  
#3 | 690 days ago

(Edited by ms_hippie_queen)
i effing love these guys.

i'll speak for old mike too who has been mia for way too long: "i effing love these guys."

(ha! pinch, poke, you owe me a coke, mike. how funny...)

i've never seen a picture of them before though. looks like a bunch of weird als standing around for an awkward christmas picture.
10 (SOLID)  
#4 | 690 days ago

.38 Special was a popular Southern Rock band that played the college circuits in the late 70's and early 80's............Some events would have Charlie Daniels w/ The Marshall Tucker band or the Outlaws............I have seen them a few times along with the many combinations on the ticket.
5-6 (Not bad)  
#5 | 690 days ago

I still have my Tour de Force LP. One of these days I'm going to get a new turntable and listen to all my old albums.
5-6 (Not bad)  
#6 | 690 days ago
Nick__ (+)

The very first concert that I had ever gone to was in 1981 and I saw .38 Special open up for Cheap Trick at Navy Pier which is where Chicago had there annual Chicago Summer Fest back then.  I was 12 years old!

These guys have always been a very consistent and solid band, in my opinion.  yes
7-9 (Liked them a lot)  
#7 | 690 days ago

I poo'ed and out came this poll..
#8 | 689 days ago
Nick__ (+)

keebs8 wrote:
I poo'ed and out came this poll..
So, Keebs, what you are saying is that these guys are your all-time favorite band?
7-9 (Liked them a lot)  
#9 | 689 days ago

I liked em...Hold On Loosely was one of my first vinyl record purchases in college...and it skipped in the by holding the needle down, I fixed the skip, but could hear a scratch sound...and now, every time I hear the song, I expect the scratchy sound to be there.  I also like "If I'd Been The One" when I listen to my "sad cd" in the car...I kinda blast it...
10 (SOLID)  
#10 | 661 days ago

7-9 (Liked them a lot)  

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