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Crash Talks .38 Special with Don Barnes

38 Special
(Getty Images)

Those wild-eyed southern boys, .38 Special, are rolling into Grand Falls Casino in Larchwood, Iowa Saturday February 16th for a 9pm show. (Click here for ticket info)

I got a chance to interview Don Barnes (far left in picture above). Barnes co-founded the band with a ‘friend from the neighborhood’ in Jacksonville, Florida: Donnie Van Zant, in 1974. Donnie’s big brother was Ronnie Van Zant, lead singer for Lynyrd Skynyrd, so the boys had big footprints to walk in. Barnes talks about the early formation of .38 Special:

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Barnes says the early years were tough, maybe playing as the third billed band under Skynyrd or Peter Frampton and would maybe get a three sentence write up review the next day after playing for a few hundred people.

Their third album included a regional hit that got them noticed as “Rockin’ Into The Night’ cracked the Top 40, but it wasn’t until Barnes was going through a rough patch in his personal life and working on writing songs for the upcoming album that things finally started to break for .38 Special:

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Barnes recanted a story about flying to L.A. to hopefully impress a radio program director in hopes of the legendary rock radio station, KLOS, would play their new song:

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Barnes and the band were honored last year at the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, where they recorded so many of their hits and it was a way to get all the former band members back together, if only for a night. Barnes said he was so caught up in the moment, that he completely forgot to write a speech, which turned into an off the cuff tribute to the band members fathers who were so important to the guys and to the band.

I asked him what keeps it fresh for them, especially for he and Van Zant who have been playing some of these songs for over 30 years. It comes down to not ‘going through the motions’ and just doing it for a paycheck. They play these songs like they’re brand new which is a testament to them always putting on a great show. And Barnes said it’s still a rush to see the fans reactions when they hit those opening riffs of songs that have been a part of our lives forever:

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If you’ve never seen .38 Special, or it’s been awhile, go see them February 16th at Grand Falls Casino. Tickets are $32 and $40 and are available at the link above. I’ve seen the show a half dozen times and always leave with a smile on my face.

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