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Legends of Southern Rock: 38 Special

by Michael Buffalo Smith

The Legends of Southern Rock Series

38 Special was formed by neighborhood friends Don Barnes and Donnie Van Zant in 1975 in Jacksonville, Florida. Donnie's older brother Ronnie was lead singer for Lynyrd Skynyrd, a position now held by their youngest brother Johnny Van Zant.


The current 38 lineup consists of guitarist and co-lead singer Don Barnes, rhythm guitarist and co-lead singer Donnie Van Zant, guitarist Danny Chauncey, bassist Larry “L.J.” Junstrom, keyboardist Bobby Capps, and drummer Gary Moffatt.

According to the GRITZ interview with Don Barnes, there is quite a story behind the band’s moniker.

“There was an old truck called big blue that kept falling apart. It kept eating up all of our profits. I remember coming home with $30 after fixing this truck. Donnie and I would ride around and try to find an obscure place to rehearse. We would find these places for fifty bucks a month to rehearse, of course we had day jobs then. The guy could not figure out why we wanted to rent this place. There was manure, and we had to shovel it out of there and then get some pallets to stand on for a floor. We had the place fortified and had it vaulted up with 2 x 4’s and a big motorcycle chain that went through the hole in the door to lock it with this old rusty lock. Then we had to climb in a window to get in and out. One night we were rehearsing and heard someone banging on the door and when we looked, there were 12 constables banging on the door to get in. We were yelling and telling them we couldn’t open the door and one of them yelled that he had a .38 special to use on the door if we wouldn’t let him in. So when we had our first show, we had not thought of a name so we decided to use that name.”

By the early 1980s, the band began incorporating elements of blues-rock and arena rock into their sound, kicking off a string of successful albums and singles.

Among 38 Special's best-known songs are "Caught Up in You" (1982) and "If I'd Been the One" (1983), both of which hit #1 on Billboard magazine's album rock chart, and "Second Chance" (1989), a #1 hit on Billboard's adult contemporary chart, and sung by former member Max Carl who is now a member of Grand Funk Railroad. Other hit singles include "Hold on Loosely" (1981) which was featured in 2007's Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s and "Back Where You Belong" (1984).

In 2007, 38 Special was the opening act on Lynyrd Skynyrd and Hank Williams Jr.'s Rowdy Frynds Tour, and they joined Shooter Jennings and The Charlie Daniels Band for the 2008 Volunteer Jam Tour.

On September 27, 2008, 38 Special filmed a CMT Crossroads with country singer Trace Adkins, performing both artists hits from over the years.

Jack Grondin
Jeff Carlisi 
Steve Brookins
Max Carl
Scott Hoffman
Ken Lyons
Greg Morrow
Scott Meeder

1977     38 Special    
1977     Special Delivery        
1980     Rockin' Into the Night        
1981     Wild-Eyed Southern Boys    
1982     Special Forces    
1983     Tour de Force    
1986     Strength in Numbers    
1988     Rock & Roll Strategy         
1991     Bone Against Steel    
1997     Resolution        
2001     Anthology        
2004     Drivetrain        

1978     Wild Eyed & Live        
1987     Flashback: The Best of 38 Special    
1999     Live at Sturgis        
2000     20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of 38 Special        
2001     Wild-Eyed Christmas Night        
2003     The Very Best of the A&M Years (1977-1988)   



The Legends of Southern Rock Series


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