Dickey Betts on the term Southern Rock


RFK 73 – Photo by John Gellman

Look what I found – an interesting overlooked tidbit from a Dickey Betts interview, circa 1998 or 99.

You didn’t like being called Southern Rock. How do you feel about it now?
Mixed. It is true that we were the first band to sound like we were from the South. We fought tooth and nail to prevent Atlantic Records from moving us out of the South, when they said we’d never make it living in Macon, Georgia, and playing that type of music. They insisted we had to go to New York or L.A., and that they’d break us out of there. Thank God we, along with Phil Walden, our manager, were smart enough to know that that would ruin the band. We stuck with it and stuck with it, and finally got to make a record. Atlantic kept holding off, so we kept touring. Even without a record contract, we developed a strong grass-roots support system that finally impressed the label.

But it wasn’t called “Southern rock” until a lot of bands saw they could succeed by playing the way they were always told that they couldn’t succeed. And other bands came along, like Charlie Daniels and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Then there was a need to call the music something, and somebody tagged it “Southern rock.” I really don’t think there is a need to call it that anymore. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, we’re just a progressive rock band from the South. They don’t call the Black Crowes “Southern rock” just because they’re from Georgia. I’m damned proud of who I am and where I’m from. But I think the title pigeon-holes us a little bit, and forces people to expect certain types of music from us. I’ve seen us referred to as a “Boogie Band,” and I don’t think that’s fair.