38 Special’s Don Barnes reflects on Gregg Allman, solo album before Biloxi show

38 Special return to Biloxi on Saturday with a show at the Hard Rock Live.
38 Special return to Biloxi on Saturday with a show at the Hard Rock Live. Courtesy

Summer on the Coast means a lot of different things to different people, but for fans of the rock band 38 Special it means one thing — the band will be playing Biloxi.

“It’s kind of become an annual event for us,” 38 Special singer/guitarist Don Barnes said in an interview with the Sun Herald. “We always look forward to coming back to Biloxi.”

Barnes and the rest of 38 Special — Danny Chauncey, Bobby Capps, Gary Moffatt and Barry Dunaway — will hit the Hard Rock Live on Saturday. Tickets to the show start at $19.99 and are available at Ticketmaster.

It’s been more than 40 years since Barnes and Donnie Van Zant started the band in Jacksonville, Florida — the same place where Lynyrd Skyrnd, which featured Van Zant’s brother Ronnie, had its beginnings. 38 Special ruled rock radio in the ’80s with hits like “Hold On Loosely,” “Caught Up in You” and “Back Where You Belong.”

Van Zant left the band a few years ago, but Barnes and company have kept on trucking, continuing to tour and release new music. But on June 30, Barnes will release his first, and only, solo album, “Ride The Storm.” While it’s not unusual for members of a band to release a side project — Van Zant had his side project “Van Zant” with his younger brother, Johnny — Barnes’ album is unique because it’s been relatively “lost” for the past 30 years. It’s also unique in the fact that former Toto members the late Jeff Pocaro and his brother, the late Mike Pocaro, are among the musicians who lent a hand on the record. The album is being released by MelodicRock Records.

In an interview with the Sun Herald, Barnes discusses how the album was, literally, brought back from the ashes and remembers his friend and brother in rock ’n’ roll, Gregg Allman.

They did a New Year’s Eve show in 2002 or 2003 and I had the pleasure to get up onstage with them and I stood next to Gregg. I thought, ‘Man, I had come a long way from the old neighborhood.’

Don Barnes, 38 Special

Q: Tell me about the band’s relationship with the Allman Brothers Band, particularly the late Gregg Allman.

A: Gregg’s legacy is nothing short of legendary. We were some young guys coming up in the shadow of the Allman Brothers. They were always in Jacksonville putting things together — man, Jeff, I can go on and on about this. We have a long history with them, especially with the Second Coming, which was Dicky Betts and Berry Oakley’s band. We would go see them and they were the talk of town. We were all playing the sailor clubs back then. I played in some cover bands and we covered the Allman Brothers and I tried to copy Gregg’s singing, but no one can sing like Gregg. Gregg always said Ray Charles was his favorite singer. It’s just monolithic the influence of all of those guys. They laid the groundwork for all of us, Skynyrd, too. They were gods to us before anyone else knew anything about them.

But we learned from their excess and mistakes. We were the third tier of that kind of music and we said if we got the chance, we weren’t going to do that kind of stuff.

Gregg’s influence is beyond description. He taught us so much — we learned all about the old blues guys from the Allman Brothers.

Q: Do you have a favorite Gregg song? One of mine is “Win, Lose or Draw.”

A: There are a lot of great ones. “Not My Cross to Bear” is a great one. A buddy of mine and I saw the Allman Brothers and they opened with “Statesboro Blues” and we were just blown away. We were riding down the road later on and we heard it on the radio.

My favorite song is “Please Call Home.” God, all of those early songs were so cool and they didn’t get that much recognition for them. They were big stars in our eyes, but no one had really latched on to them until the “Live at The Fillmore” album.

Danny (Chauncey) actually played in Gregg Allman’s band and he has a lot of great stories. He toured with them for a long time. They did a New Year’s Eve show in 2002 or 2003 and I had the pleasure to get up onstage with them and I stood next to Gregg. I thought, “Man, I had come a long way from the old neighborhood.”

Q: You have a “long lost” solo album that’s about to be released.

A: Yeah man, I did that about 30 years ago. I was taking a hiatus from the band and A&M Records offered me a solo deal. I was able to get Jeff Pocaro and Mike Pocaro and Dan Huff on it — Dan’s a titan of the industry now as a producer. It’s a great record and it still stands up today. I wrote most of the record with Martin Briley. I was trying to get away from the 38 sound and do something different, but however hard I tried, it still sounded like 38 Special. It’s a very well-written record.

It was a thrill to pay with Jeff and Mike — rest in peace, brothers. I was in awe of them. I remember Jeff would draw caricatures on drum heads. You know drummers have a lot of downtime because they show up and tune their drums and then they have to wait. He drew all of these great caricatures on his drum heads. He was really a great artist. I would love to have some of them, but I don’t even know if they exist anymore. Mike was such a gentle soul. He had played on our “Strength in Numbers” album. It was truly an honor to play with them.

We mixed the record and I wanted to mix a little bit different, but the record company got sold out from under me. Who has that happen to them? I was ready to go and the record company got bought out. I was standing around waiting saying,” What about me?” and there was no one left to care. A&M had been absorbed. There was only one copy of the album.

I had the copy and then my son took it and then I got approached about releasing it. I went through the whole house and I couldn’t find it. The original master had been destroyed. They destroyed a bunch of masters. I was heartbroken because I couldn’t find it. My son was storing some stuff at my house and I looked through it and I found that one copy in the bottom of one bin. The record you’re going to hear was mastered from that one copy.

If you go

Who: 38 Special

Where: Hard Rock Live at 777 Beach Boulevard in Biloxi

When: 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 10

Tickets: Start at $19.99 and are available at Ticketmaster.com.