1970-1972 - ARS is Formed and Starts Recording

The story of the Atlanta Rhythm Section began in Doraville, GA, a small town northeast of Atlanta, in 1970. Local Atlanta engineer Rodney Mills built a new studio in Doraville with the support of music publisher Bill Lowery, producer/songwriter/manager Buddy Buie, and songwriter/guitarist J.R. Cobb. The studio was dubbed Studio One and would become one of the preeminent studios in the Atlanta area. Over the years, artists who recorded there included Al Kooper, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Joe South, Bonnie Bramlett, Dickey Betts, B.J. Thomas and Billy Joe Royal.

The Atlanta Rhythm Section originally came together as the house band at Studio One. Buie and Cobb had been part of the group the Classics IV - remembered for hits including "Spooky," "Stormy" and "Traces." Buie recruited three musicians he had worked with previously in the Candymen, a group that backed Roy Orbison-singer Rodney Justo, keyboardist Dean Daughtry and drummer Robert Nix. Two talented local session players also joined in-guitarist Barry Bailey and bassist Paul Goddard. These musicians played on a number of other artist's records and the decision was made to make an album on their own.

Buie wanted the best players doing his songs as a guitar based band, and he wrote, produced and managed ARS from the start. Buie, Daughtry and Nix did a lot of the songwriting together. The Rhythm Section would play on other's albums 3-4 days a week and then work on their own material. They recorded a demo featuring instrumentals and over a couple of years pulled together material for an album. The demo got them a two record deal with MCA/Decca, and so ARS officially began.

The First Album - "The Atlanta Rhythm Section"

The ten songs that make up ARS' self-titled debut album were recorded at Studio One in Doraville, GA in Nov. 1971. Producer/songwriter Buddy Buie wrote nine of the songs in partnership with others in the band. While the sound of the album may have become a little dated over time, what still comes through today are two traits that ARS was starting to refine and would prove to be their strong points over the years-great songwriting and excellent musicianship.

The album was released in 1972 and generated some critical interest for the quality of the songs and musicianship. But there was also some questioning of the idea of a rock band made up of a group of studio musicians who hadn't paid their dues on the road. The album didn't produce any hit songs, so the group continued to play on other artist's records at Studio One.

It was during the recording of the first album that Ronnie Hammond came to Studio One as an assistant engineer for Rodney Mills. He was skilled on multiple instruments and most importantly had a great singing voice. When singer Rodney Justo decided to leave the group to pursue a solo career, Hammond became the new lead singer. This group of musicians would go on to make the next six ARS albums together. In 1972, the group tried to broaden their approach as they worked on their second album for MCA/Decca.


Next: 1973-1974 Early Albums and Playing Live

ARS Historical Timeline

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