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The Greatest Songwriters of The Southern Rock Era

by Michael Buffalo Smith


1. Dickey Betts
    Dickey brought something to the Allman Brothers Band table that nobody else had. That something was a true country music passion, fueled by other influences from blues and jazz, like Django Rhinehart. Dickey has written some of the most memorable tunes ever. AT HIS BEST: “Blue Sky,” “Ramblin’ Man,” “Seven Turns,” “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.”

2. Toy Caldwell
    Marshall Tucker’s Toy wrote about life. He could take a subject like fishing, driving on the highway or walking his property line and make it sing. AT HIS BEST: “Heard it in a Love Song,”  “Can’t You See,” “Bob Away My Blues,” “Hillbilly Band.”

3. George McCorkle
   George wrote one of Marshall Tucker’s biggest ever hits, as well as a bunch or excellent LP tracks. In later years, he was becoming one of Nashville’s finest writers as well, aging like a fine wine. AT HIS BEST: “Fire On the Mountain,” “Last of the Singing Cowboys,” American Street,” “Peace Stories.”

4. Charlie Daniels
    Charlie can write a story, a blog or a song with equal skill. He’s a natural writer like Toy was. AT HIS BEST: “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” “Cabio Diablo,” “The Legend of Wooley Swamp,” “Simple Man.”

5. Ronnie Van Zant
   Another writer who wrote from his heart, and wrote about what was going on around him. If you listen to Ronnie’s songs, they reflect where he and the band were at the time of the writing, almost telling their story like a musical journal. AT HIS BEST: “Free Bird,” (with Allen)  “Sweet Home Alabama,” (with Gary and Ed),  “On The Hunt.” (with Allen).

6. Gregg Allman
    Not as prolific a writer as Dickey, Gregg has nonetheless turned in some of the most timeless Southern Rock tunes of all time. AT HIS BEST: “Melissa,” “Queen of Hearts,” “Whipping Post.”

7. Ed King
    The Lynyrd Skynyrd guitar hero wrote some of Southern Rock’s most loved tunes and guitar riffs, including one of the most instantly recognizable in “Sweet Home Alabama.” AT HIS BEST: “Sweet Home Alabama,” (with Gary and Ed) “Saturday Night Special”(with Ronnie).

8. Dru Lombar
   The Grinderswitch front man was not only a great guitarist and singer, but also a great songwriter. AT  HIS BEST: “Kiss The Blues Goodbye,” “Peach County Jamboree.”

9. Don Barnes
   Don Barnes of 38 Special has written some of the greatest songs - from Southern rock to pop rock. AT HIS BEST: “Caught Up in You,” (with Jeff Carlisi/Jim Peterik); “Stone Cold Believer” (with Carlisi/Johnny Van Zant).

10. Bruce Brookshire
     The leader of Doc Holliday plays and sings Southern Rock and gospel equally well, and his writing is always top drawer. AT HIS BEST: “Lonesome Guitar,” “Hoodoo Man,”  “Workin’ Man.”

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