Pop/Rock  •  Hard Rock

Southern Rock

Southern Rock drew from the heavy blues-rock of the late '60s as well as honky tonk and Bakersfield country, creating a distinctive fusion. Throughout the early '70s, Southern rock bands formed a major part of the American hard rock band. The first Southern rock band was the Allman Brothers, who elaborated on the improvisational tendencies and loudness of Cream and the Grateful Dead while staying closer to rock & roll's blues and country roots. They were followed shortly afterward by Lynyrd Skynyrd, who played heavier and louder than the Allman Brothers; in the process, they set the template for all the Southern rock bands that followed them. Skynyrd had three lead guitarists, so they naturally indulged themselves in long jams. They also had a sharp songwriter in Ronnie Van Zant, who was able to fuse traditional music with contemporary rock & roll and also had a gift for perceptive lyrics. The bands that followed Skynyrd often lacked a songwriter the stature of Van Zant, but they were able to replicated the group's heavy boogie and long jams. Several bands took the music closer to its country or blues roots, while others, like the Dixie Dregs, developed skilled improvisational technique. Still, the dominant sound of Southern rock was its loose fusion of several rootsy genres and its fondness for heavy boogie jams. The genre died out in the early '80s, after Molly Hatchet, the Marshall Tucker Band, and .38 Special experienced a string of AOR hits, but the spirit of the music lived on in '90s bands like the Black Crowes and Widespread Panic.