Atlanta Rhythm Section

  • Southern rock band from Doraville Georgia formed in 1971. The original members were Rodney Justo (vocals), Barry Bailey (guitar), Paul Goddard (bass guitar), Dean Daughtry (keyboards), Robert Nix (drums) and J.R. Cobb (guitar). Justo and Daughtry are still with the band today.
  • In 1970, a new recording studio opened in Doraville near Atlanta, and 4 members from 2 bands – The Candymen (Justo, Daughtry and Nix) and Classics IV (Daughtry and Cobb) – became the session band for the studio. After playing backup for other artists, they formed the Atlanta Rhythm Section along with Goddard and Bailey, in 1971.
  • They were signed by a label, and they released their first album, the self titled Atlanta Rhythm Section, in 1972. Sales were poor, and Justo left the band for New York. He was replaced by Ronnie Hammond, who was the vocalist for the band’s future hits. With Hammond, they released their second album in 1973, Back Up Against the Wall, which also sold poorly.
  • They were dropped by their label, but managed to get another contract. Their next album, Third Annual Pipe Dream, charted 2 singles, with Doraville making it to #35. Their next 2 albums still only had modest sales. The band toured more to increase their exposure, and in 1976, they opened shows for The Who and The Rolling Stones.
  • While ARS was considered a southern rock band, their sound had evolved to a more laid back sound – mellow with distinctive lead guitars and keyboards.
  • Finally, by 1976, they had a hit record. The album A Rock and Roll Alternative included the single So Into You, which peaked at #7 in 1977.
  • Their 1978 album Champagne Jam was their largest selling record, with sales of over 1 million copies. The two hit singles from the record were I’m Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight and Imaginary Lover. 
  • Underdog, released in 1979, would be the last of their album that sold well. The top 20 singles on the album were Do It or Die, and Spooky.
  • The band released 5 more albums between 1980 and 1999, and then a final album 12 years later.
  • The band still tours today, playing mostly festivals and nostalgia themed concerts, as well as on cruise ships.
  • Atlanta Rhythm Section had enough hits in their day, and a unique enough sound, that they make it on my list of bands that are worth listening to. My favorite was I’m Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight – I liked the positiveness in a world full of negatives. Here is the band performing So Into You – you’ll hear that unique blend of soft southern rock with an R&B vibe.

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