The Rise of Outlaw Country and Southern Rock

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,

In the 1970s, a new sound began to emerge from the American South. It was a blend of country music and rock ‘n’ roll, and it quickly gained a following among music fans who were looking for something a little different.

This new sound came to be known as outlaw country, and it was led by artists like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Johnny Cash. Southern rock bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers Band also embraced

The Origins of Outlaw Country and Southern Rock

In the 1970s, a new breed of country music began to emerge. This new sound was a blend of traditional country, rock, and blues. This new style of music became known as outlaw country. Southern rock also emerged around this time and shared many of the same musical influences.

The influence of the Beatles and Bob Dylan

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, two groups of musicians emerged that would have a profound and lasting impact on popular music: the Beatles and Bob Dylan. Both groups were immensely successful and influential, and their work would help pave the way for the rise of outlaw country and southern rock.

The Beatles were a pop phenomenon, and their music was heard by millions around the world. But they also had a profound influence on the development of country music. Their 1968 song “Lady Madonna” was adapted by country singer Willie Nelson into a hit country song, and their influence can be heard in the work of other country artists like Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings.

Bob Dylan, meanwhile, was an influential folk artist who experimented with electric guitar and rock n’ roll. His work would inspire a whole new generation of musicians, including Gram Parsons, who would go on to help create the genre of outlaw country.

The influence of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers

The Byrds were a hugely influential band in the development of both outlaw country and southern rock. Gram Parsons, who was a member of the Byrds from 1968 to 1972, is often credited as the inventor of country rock. His time with the Byrds coincided with the release of two of the band’s most famous albums, Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968) and Untitled (1970), both of which featured his songwriting and guitar playing.

Parsons left the Byrds in 1972 to form the Flying Burrito Brothers, which is widely considered to be one of the first outlaw country bands. The Flying Burrito Brothers’ sound was a mixture of country, rock, and R&B, and their debut album, The Gilded Palace of Sin (1969), is considered one of the classic albums of the genre.

Parsons’ influence can also be heard in the work of other prominent outlaw country artists such as Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. Nelson’s album Red Headed Stranger (1975) was heavily indebted to Parsons’ style, and Jennings’ hit song “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)” (1977) was co-written by Parsons’ former writing partner, Bob Dylan.

The Mainstream Success of Outlaw Country and Southern Rock

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, two genres of music that had been bubbling under the surface for years suddenly exploded into the mainstream: outlaw country and southern rock. These two genres were similar in many ways, but they also had their own unique styles and sounds. Outlaw country was pioneered by artists like Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, while southern rock was popularized by bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers Band.

The success of Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers

One of the most important figures in the development of both Outlaw Country and Southern Rock was Gram Parsons. A member of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, Parsons is credited with infusing country music with a rock sensibility. His work with the Byrds on their 1968 album Sweetheart of the Rodeo is often cited as a key moment in the evolution of country rock. Parsons left the Byrds shortly after the album’s release, but he continued to explore his country-rock sound with the Flying Burrito Brothers. The group released three albums between 1969 and 1971, all of which were influential in the development of both Outlaw Country and Southern Rock.

The success of the Eagles and Jackson Browne

The Eagles and Jackson Browne were two of the biggest stars of the early 1970s, thanks to their massive success on the pop charts. But they also had a huge impact on the development of two very different genres of music: outlaw country and southern rock.

The Eagles were the first band to successfully fuse country and rock, creating a sound that was both radio-friendly and commercial. Their 1972 debut album, “Eagles,” contained three hit singles that would become classics: “Take It Easy,” “Witchy Woman,” and “Desperado.” The album was a huge success, selling over 10 million copies.

Jackson Browne’s 1972 album, “For Everyman,” was also a huge success, thanks to the hit single “Doctor My Eyes.” Browne’s songwriting was deeply personal and introspective, and his music appealed to both country and rock fans. His success helped pave the way for other singer-songwriters like James Taylor and Joni Mitchell.

The commercial success of the Eagles and Jackson Browne paved the way for other country-rock bands like Poco and The Flying Burrito Brothers. But it was also a boon for southern rock bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers Band. These bands took the basic elements of country-rock – electric guitars, pedal steel guitars, fiddles, etc. – and added a heavy dose of bluesy southern attitude. The result was a uniquely American form of rock ‘n’ roll that captured the hearts of millions of fans.

The Decline of Outlaw Country and Southern Rock

In the early 1970s, adrug-fueled musical subgenre called outlaw country was beginning to take hold among country artists who were dissatisfied with the conservative Nashville establishment. Led by “outlaws” like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash, the outlaw movement rejected the polished production values and pop sensibilities of mainstream country in favor of a grittier, more authentic sound.

One of the most popular outlaw country artists was Gram Parsons, who achieved critical and commercial success with his band The Flying Burrito Brothers. A talented singer and songwriter, Parsons was also known for his heavy drug use, which often led to onstage antics and erratic behavior. Unfortunately, Parsons’ drug habit ultimately proved to be fatal; he died of an overdose in 1973 at the age of 26.

Similarly, Duane Allman of the southern rock band The Allman Brothers was also no stranger to drug abuse. A highly skilled musician, Allman’s drug use led to many on-the-job accidents, such as falling asleep while playing or passing out onstage. In 1971, at the age of 24, Allman died in a motorcycle crash that many believe was caused by his drug use.

The commercial success of country-pop artists like Garth Brooks

By the early 1990s, a new breed of country-pop artist was beginning to achieve commercial success. Artists like Garth Brooks and Shania Twain were melding country music with pop melodies and instrumentation, resulting in a sound that was more radio-friendly and appeal to a wider audience. This new sound began to eclipsed the traditional country sounds of artists like Hank Williams Sr. and Patsy Cline.

As country-pop became more popular, traditional Outlaw Country and Southern Rock began to decline in popularity. This was due in part to the new sound becoming more mainstream, but also because of the tragic deaths of some of the genre’s biggest stars. Notable country-music artists who died in airplane crashes include Gram Parsons, Steve Gaines, and Ronnie Van Zant. The death of these artists dealt a major blow to the popularity of Outlaw Country and Southern Rock.

Today, there are still some artists keeping the sound alive, but they are not achieving the same level of commercial success as their predecessors.

The Legacy of Outlaw Country and Southern Rock

Outlaw country and southern rock are two genres of music that have had a huge impact on the music industry. Outlaw country is a subgenre of country music that began in the 1970s. Southern rock is a genre of rock music that originated in the southeastern United States in the late 1960s. These two genres of music have had a huge impact on the music industry and continue to influence the sound of country and rock music today.

The influence of Outlaw Country on Americana music

While country music has often been divided between the Nashville sound of polished pop and the more traditional honky-tonk, Outlaw Country is a subgenre that falls somewhere in between. This hybrid style emerged in the 1970s as a response to the slick, overproduced country music coming out of Nashville. Outlaw Country artists like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Merle Haggard embraced a rawer sound that was more in line with their own personal styles.

While Nashville continued to produce top-selling country artists throughout the 1970s and 1980s, many of them were influenced by the Outlaw Country movement. The popularity of Southern rock bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers also helped to keep traditional country sounds alive during this period. In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in Outlaw Country and Southern rock, with modern artists like Eric Church, Sturgill Simpson, and Chris Stapleton carrying on the legacy of these musical styles.

The influence of Southern Rock on jam bands

Southern rock is a subgenre of rock music that emerged in the Southern United States in the 1970s. Although the genre is considered a blend of rock and country, it has also been described as “a cross between Chuck Berry and Merle Haggard.” Southern rock bands typically have a roots-based sound that incorporates elements of country, blues, and rock and roll.

In the 1990s and 2000s, jam bands such as the Allman Brothers Band, Widespread Panic, and Gov’t Mule continued to incorporate elements of Southern rock into their music. In addition, many jam bands began to experiment with synths and other electronic instrumentation, which was often seen as a direct extension of the noodling guitar solos characteristic of Southern rock.

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