5 Legendary Southern Rock Bands That Came From The ’80s

5 Legendary Southern Rock Bands That Came From The ’80s | I Love Classic Rock Videos

via Classic Rock on MV / Youtube

The blues is a vital place to start if you want to explore southern rock and its key bands. The blues is the genre’s primary influence, while country music also has a modest but noticeable effect.

This combination results in a unique style that forges its own unique route while including elements of Buddy Guy’s swing, Jerry Lee Lewis’ attitude, Muddy Waters’ skill, and Elvis Presley’s boogie.

Phil Walden founded Capricorn Records in Macon, Georgia, which is considered the spiritual center of this musical movement. With legendary artists like Wet Willie, Grinderswitch, Elvin Bishop, The Marshall Tucker Band, and, most notably, The Allman Brothers Band, the label’s lineup resembles a Southern Rock Hall of Fame.

Although the 70s was its golden era, the genre has grown to include the entire Southern area and beyond since those colorful early days. Here are some of the best Southern rockers of the 1980s. 

.38 Special

.38 Special was founded in 1974 in Jacksonville, Florida, by singer-guitarists Don Barnes and Donnie Van Zant, the younger brother of Lynyrd Skynyrd co-founder and frontman Ronnie Van Zant. 

They were well-known for their chart-topping successes, like “Hold On Loosely” and “Caught Up in You”, and throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, they placed many times in the Top 40 of the US Billboard Hot 100. Other songs in their repertoire that stand out are “Teacher, Teacher”, “Like No Other Night”, “Second Chance”, “Rockin’ into the Night”, and “You Keep Runnin’ Away”.

The band heavily embraced Southern rock elements in its first two albums. Though they still incorporated parts of their Southern rock roots,.38 Special evolved into a more approachable, guitar-driven arena rock style as the early 1980s wore on. This development opened the door for a string of successful albums and singles.


Just like .38 Special, Blackfoot was formed in Jacksonville, Florida, but four years before the previous band. Apart from their trademark Southern rock style, they are also known for their work in hard rock. The band’s original lineup included guitarist and singer Rickey Medlocke, guitarist Charlie Hargrett, bassist Greg T. Walker, and drummer Jackson Spires.

Blackfoot saw success with a number of albums during the 1970s and early 1980s, including hits like Strikes (1979), Tomcattin’ (1980), and Marauder (1981).

The mainstream music press declared “Southern rock” to be out of style in the early 1980s. The band decided to change their sound in response, going back to using keyboards in their sound. When they approached former Uriah Heep organist Ken Hensley, they convinced him to join the group in 1982, in time for the recording of their next album, Siogo.

Kentucky Headhunters

The Kentucky Headhunters are a country rock and Southern rock group from Kentucky that consists of Doug Phelps (vocals, bass guitar), Greg Martin (vocals, lead guitar), and brothers Richard Young (vocals, rhythm guitar) and Fred Young (vocals, drums). Martin, Anthony Kenney on bass guitar and vocals, the Young brothers, and the group’s original members formed the group in 1968 under the moniker Itchy Brother.

The Kentucky Headhunters have released twenty-three singles, three compilation albums, and ten studio albums. One of their best-known hits is a cover of Don Gibson’s “Oh Lonesome Me”, which peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts in 1990. In 1990, they won this Grammy for their album Pickin’ on Nashville.

Fun fact: Itchy Brother was on the verge of signing a record deal with Swan Song Records, the independent company that Led Zeppelin members started in 1980. However, the label closed after drummer John Bonham passed away. As such, Itchy Brother was never given the chance to record an entire album for the Swan Song.

The Georgia Satellites

The Georgia Satellites are Southern rockers from Atlanta, Georgia. They rose to fame in 1986 with their self-titled debut album, which included their most well-known hit, “Keep Your Hands to Yourself,” a classic that peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, 

Following this success, the group issued two more albums: Open All Night in 1988 and In the Land of Salvation and Sin in 1989, which was their last album with original material before going on hiatus in 1990.

The Georgia Satellites returned to the stage in 1993 and have continued to perform live ever since. Shaken Not Stirred, which was released in 1996, is currently their most recent studio album. It includes eight new songs as well as re-recordings of their previous tracks.

Molly Hatchet

Molly Hatchet was founded in 1971 by guitarist Dave Hlubek, and its headquarters and origins are in Jacksonville, Florida. The band was influenced by and took cues from their more well-known cohorts Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Gaining popularity and reaching commercial success in the late 1970s and the early to mid-1980s, Molly Hatchet developed a committed audience within the Southern rock and hard rock communities. Between 1978 and 1984, the band released six studio albums through Epic Records during this time. Among these were the platinum-selling records Beatin’ the Odds (1980), Flirtin’ with Disaster (1979), and Molly Hatchet (1978).

Molly Hatchet’s influence was so great that they put out several hit songs on the US Billboard charts, such as “Flirtin’ with Disaster”, “The Rambler”, “Bloody Reunion”, and “Satisfied Man”. After splitting from Epic Records in 1985, they went on to put out a number of studio albums. None, however, have charted in the US or attained the same degree of success as their early works.