The Great Tragic History of Southern Rock Is Revealed in ‘Southbound’

Some say it's impossible to call one volume the definitive history on a topic, but it is possible to announce one as the seminal work. This book is both.

Southern rock is often maligned and misunderstood and Scott B. Bomar’s recent illustrated history on the topic gives readers a new appreciation of the music. It’s an excellent read on a topic that some may come to kicking and screaming.

For skeptics, Lynyrd Skynyrd has become synonymous with faux encore calls for club and bar bands everywhere, and for many, Molly Hatchet was a one-hit wonder that fell off the face of the Earth long before “Flirtin’ with Disaster” fell off the radio. The Allman Brothers Band command respect today, but some of that comes more from what the band has not been for more than 40 years. In truth, Skynyrd was a band that was far more accomplished and diverse than given credit for and ABB has been expanding horizons with its latter day incarnations as much as any other band faithfully touring the American concert circuit these days. (Though, yes, ABB is getting off that ride.)

But those are just two of the many entries in the history of Southern rock. In fact, the term is something of a misnomer, because one could easily argue (and Bomar probably should continue the thread in these pages longer than he does) that all rock is Southern rock. It is music birthed in that rural climate, created by black and white Southerners who continue to bring it out of that region and around the globe year after year.

What now stands without argument is that this subgenre was birthed in Muscle Shoals one afternoon when Duane “Skydog” Allman convinced Wilson Pickett to record a version of “Hey Jude”. As was his style Allman played some blistering leads on the outro to that track. That, if you listen, gives you the inception of Southern rock, where city meets country, soul meets rock, and black and white influences become irrelevant.