Saturday, March 19, 2011

Got this Bob Lefsetz piece about Ronnie & ARS from Buie this morning. It's followed by a tribute by Al Kooper. In Buddy's words, "IT DESERVES A REPRINT."
If you have problems linking to it, I've published it on my blog, ZERO, NORTHWEST FLORIDA.

Ronnie Hammond

Sometimes you only have to hear a record once.

And this I heard on the only rock station in Salt Lake City. It was entitled "Dog Days". There was a moodiness that always appeals to me, but mostly it was the vocalist, and the chorus:

The dog days were scorchers
Southern torture

Living out of a suitcase, otherwise known as my BMW 2002, I was nowhere near owning a turntable, but when I was finally in one place I bought this album by the Atlanta Rhythm Section and wondered why they weren’t big stars.

Maybe it’s because they were on Polydor Records. Barely a major, if you were on Polydor or any of the affiliated PolyGram labels, like Mercury, you had a strike against you.

But the follow-up, "Red Tape", was even better. There was this almost ten minute track called "Another Man’s Woman".

Today they want the songs shorter, to appeal in call-out research. You’ve got to have a bite-sized hook. But the tracks we liked best in the seventies were mind-benders that started one place and took us to quite another. Of course you know "Stairway To Heaven" and "Free Bird". But you should know "Another Man’s Woman" too. With its epic wailing, the intertwining playing, weaving a tapestry that was so tight you could bounce a coin on it and be so amazed that you kept doing so.

Eventually, the Atlanta Rhythm Section started having hits. "So Into You". "Imaginary Lover". But they got mislabeled, making it on these soft cuts most people did not know they could rock. That’s what happens when you’re a bunch of faceless studio cats from Georgia. People want to pigeonhole you, they don’t want to believe you can do it ALL!

I was a fan. I went to see them at the Roxy with my girlfriend. They were mine. I was glad to see them break through. I wore a smile on my face.

And it’s these second level bands that we bond ourselves to. Anybody can have the superstars, but we hard core musos love the unheralded, the misunderstood, the acts with the goods that can blow almost everybody else off the stage.

And when you connect with an act, you don’t only go along for the ride into the future, you also blast back to the past.

And on one of the band’s earlier albums I discovered a gem.

Yes, on 1974’s "Third Annual Pipe Dream", there’s this magical cut "Doraville".

Doraville, touch of country in the city
Doraville, it ain’t much, but it’s home

Ain’t that the truth. That’s America. That’s where you come from.

Friends of mine say I oughta move to New York
New York’s fine, but it ain’t Doraville
Every night I make a living making music
And that’s all right to folks in Doraville

Pride. Not obnoxious I’m better than you pride, but a warm feeling inside, a belief that how you’re doing it is right despite everybody else telling you that you’re doing it wrong.

Later in the song, Ronnie Hammond urges us to "come on down and visit, you’ll dig it".

And I truly felt that I would.

To be sitting in this studio with these cats where it’s all about music. Where the charts are secondary to locking into a groove.

But I guess that’ll never happen.

You see Monday, Ronnie Hammond passed away.

And it hits me right HERE!

I don’t know if the music of these bands survives.

But they’re the fabric of my identity. Basic building blocks. I agonized over every album purchase. I committed myself to who was good.

And the Atlanta Rhythm Section were good. They delivered.

Their music is a part of me.

From: Al Kooper
Re: Ronnie Hammond

Bob - you eastern-western-but-never- Southern-guy,

I knew Ronnie Hammond well.

I befriended the band they were b4 ARS when they played New York as The Candymen. They were Roy Orbison’s back up band and they opened for The Blues Project and Blood Sweat & Tears when I was a member of each and Orbison took time off. They were signed to ABC-Paramount back then.. We became good friends and when I played Atlanta as Al Kooper with my band in 1972, they invited us down to hear their just built studio and jam. I fell in love with that studio and also the other bands I heard in town when I spent that week there.

I bought into the studio and had my roadies pack up my apartment in New York City and I never even went back HOME from that trip. I moved to Atlanta in 1972, started my own label (Sounds Of the South) and signed two of the bands I heard in town that week (Lynyrd Skynyrd & Mose Jones) Robert Nix, ARS drummer played on Skynyrd’s track "Tuesday’s Gone" and Ronnie Hammond and Ronnie Van Zant challenged each other for the same woman on more than one occasion. I played on two ARS albums and they backed me up on one of my solo albums. When I heard he passed away, I hit You Tube to see what he looked and sounded like lately and he had aged pretty well. However only he and the keyboard player remained from the original band and that was sad.

It rang my bell when you quoted "Doraville," cause that’s where Studio One of which I was part owner for awhile was. "Free Bird" "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Saturday Night Special" were all cut by that Jacksonville band…… in Doraville.
I was told Ronnie wasn’t feeling well and went to the doctor’s office and promptly died right there.

Give ‘em hell up there in Heaven, Ronnie.

Al Kooper

Found this old negative FROM THE SUMMER OF '67 of me sitting on my bed in a staff cabin at THE BOY SCOUT RESERVATION located near New Brockton. Decided TONIGHT that my old J.C. Higgins sleeping bag I was sittin' on WAS THE HEART & SOUL OF PHILIPS INLET!!!!

I swear I LOVED THIS SLEEPING BAG! One day I washed it & it fell apart but WHAT MEMORIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love that plaid off my old sleeping bag so bad I'd pay GOOD MONEY to get fabric like that so I could make a new sleeping bag. I know theyzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Scottish folk @ THE PELICAN PUB on Dauphin Island who can give ME the news! & unnundder thang, SOMEBODY TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED TO MY CAT!!!!!

Friday, March 18, 2011


We talkin' 'bout doing a little FARM CENTER FILM PROJECT during this Tri-State BBQ Festival on Friday, April 8. I was thinking the subject should be THE FARM CENTER as THE FIRST BIG VENUE IN THE WIREGRASS TO ATTRACT NATIONAL ROCK ACTS but I don't know after googling images for "HOUSTON COUNTY FARM CENTER"
16 PAGES of images! & on PAGE ONE we find WRASSLIN', THE BOP CATS, THE TRI-STATE BBQ FESTIVAL, STEP DANCIN' & a nice collection of all of Malvern's beauty pageants.
I think we got somethin'

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

George was a great guy and a terrific friend. Here's some more stuff I posted about him back in '09 including a circa 1961 photo of Fluker leading the D.U.D. parade in Livingston.


Front page article in the BIRMINGHAM POST-HERALD, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4,1997

By Steve Joynt
Birmingham Post-Herald

Birmingham police are investigating a multiple stabbing death from last month that has lent new intrigue to the 13-year-old unsolved slaying of a former UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA FOOTBALL PLAYER.

On May 8, 1984, the body of Richard Bryan,33, was found floating in a tributary of the Tombigbee River in Choctaw County.

He had been shot three times with a shotgun: once in each shoulder and once in the back of the head. Bryan's body was wrapped with baling wire and weighted with a logging chain.

Even though no one was ever arrested in connection with the case, Bryan's mother, Cissy Stehl, who has doggedly investigated the killing on her own and offered a reward that has risen to $75,000, filed a wrongful death suit against three men, including another former Tide player.

The suit was dismissed in June of 1990 because authorities, including Choctaw County Sheriff Donald Lolley, refused to turn over information from the investigation, saying the case was still open.

Shortly before 2 a.m. on May 24, one of the three men who had been named as defendents in Mrs. Stehl's suit was found in a Birmingham alley, stabbed 29 times.

The victim, George Franklin Fluker, Jr., 46, of Freeport, Fla., died at University Hospital at 5:45 a.m. that day.

Birmingham police Detective Damian Williams said Fluker's death is a case of many odd circumstances but, as yet, there are no clear answers. The fact that Fluker may have been involved in Bryan's death years ago, Williams said, "probably has no direct bearing on his own death, but it is interesting."

Sheriff Lolley said that his investigators interviewed Fluker years ago,
"more on the witness side of the Bryan case. I would not say that he was a suspect in the actual death."

However, Lolley said he believes that Mrs. Stehl was on the right trail with her lawsuit, " and if Fluker's death might help solve this case, I'll go up to Birmingham myself."

Mr. Stehl said she takes no satisfaction in what happened to Fluker and that she feels for his family.

"No family should have to go through what this family had gone through," she said, "But if his death shakes something loose about what happened to my son, I would welcome that relief."

Fluker was attacked behind 5231 Court Q, directly behind the home of his friend Sherman Crosby, Williams said.

Crosby and his wife were out at the time and did not return until after police responded to a neighbor's call that a man in the alley was screaming for help.

Police found Crosby's home ransacked and the phone lines cut, possibly to disable the alarm system. But, Crosby told police,
nothing was missing from the house.

"The burglary created a lot of questions," Williams said. "I don't know if Fluker rolled up on the burglars or whether something else was going on."

Fluker was still able to talk when help arrived, but he was unable to provide any clues about his attacker, Williams said. He only said,"They got my car." His car was found by police later, abandoned in the 1400 block of 47th Street Ensley.

Police found $1500 in Fluker's wallet, but he may have had more when he was attacked, Williams said.

When Fluker was loaded into an ambulance, police found a .22-caliber pistol that had been lying underneath him. He told police that it was not his gun.

Fluker and his wife were driving from Florida to Tuscaloosa, Williams said, and had stopped in a Hoover hotel for the night. She told police that her husband had called Crosby at Crosby's cellular phone and talked to him for a couple of minutes. Then he said he was going to get some food. That was the last she saw of him.

Crosby has denied that Fluker called his phone and told police he DID NOT EVEN KNOW FLUKER WAS IN TOWN.

"There's a lot of things about this case that don't make a helluva lot of sense right now," Williams said. "If that old murder case from Choctaw County will help shed some light on this, I'd be happy to hear it."

Bryan, a reserve fullback and a defensive tackle for the Tide from 1972 to 1974, was last seen on May 3, 1984. He had just returned to Tuscaloosa from a trip to the Bahamas and Florida when he received an urgent call that he told his girlfriend was from Robin Parkhouse and Edwin Gates, Jr., the other two defendants named in Mrs. Stehl's suit.

He set out to meet them and was never seen alive again.

Eighteen months later, Parkhouse, an All-American defensive end for Alabama and co-captain of the 1971 SEC championship team, was arrested in a Baltimore hotel in possession of three kilograms of cocaine. He was sentenced to seven years in a federal penitentiary.

"I've never really stopped trying to find out who killed my son," Mrs. Stehl said,"He had his problems, but this should never have happened to him."

Mrs. Stehl lives in Port Royal, Va., but she and her youngest son still sometimes travel to Alabama to follow up on leads they receive in the case. To this day, talking about her son Richard's death brings her to tears.

She has accuse Lolley of all kinds of things in connection with the case, from bad police work to purposely misplacing or destroying evidence.

"I certainly sympathize with her," Lolley said," I'd love to take this case to trial, but there has to be some solid evidence to do that."

Bryan had tried for several NFL teams and finally landed a spot with a World Football League team. But the league folded before he could play a single game.

He returned to Tuscaloosa to begin pre-med classes at Alabama, looking toward a career in sports medicine.

When she heard about Fluker's death, Mrs. Stehl said, "Everything just came up into my throat. I don't know what this is going to mean, but I feel like something's got to happen now."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ray on stage @ Emory, Saturday night, November 18, 1961

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ronnie Hammond, former lead singer for THE ATLANTA RHYTHM SECTION, has died.