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Molly Hatchet is an American Southern rock band formed in Jacksonville, Florida in 1974. They are widely known for their hit song "Flirtin' with Disaster" from the album of the same title. The band, founded by Dave Hlubek and Steve Holland, took its name from a legendary Southern prostitute who supposedly mutilated and decapitated her clients.
Originating from the same city as the most well-known act in the Southern rock genre, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet shared influences and inspiration with them as well as another up-and-coming Southern Rock act, .38 Special, which featured vocalist Donnie Van Zant, who was the brother of Lynyrd Skynyrd lead vocalist, Ronnie Van Zant. Because of this, .38 Special enjoyed some influential connections in the music business, referring Molly Hatchet to manager Pat Armstrong. His interest in Molly Hatchet led to a record deal with Epic Records and bringing in Tom Werman as a producer. Werman was already well-known in the industry for working with other popular acts of the period, including Cheap Trick, Stranger and Ted Nugent. A lesser known fact was that Skynyrd's Ronnie Van Zant was slated to produce Molly Hatchet's first album. He had done arranging and rehearsed the band in preparation, before leaving on the ill-fated tour. Molly Hatchet cut their first demos in Skynyrds 8-track studio using their equipment. Hatchet would have been Van Zant's first production project outside of Skynyrd.
Dave Hlubek has also stated that, although a difficult subject, it was the end (at the time) of Lynyrd Skynyrd - who were at the height of their success - that opened the door for Molly Hatchet. While Molly Hatchet is generally considered Southern rock, founding member Hlubek suggests it was only because of the location. He considered Molly Hatchet - along with another band from the same area, Blackfoot - to actually be metal bands from the South. Prior to the band's signing with Epic Records, they often toured the Florida roadhouse and bar circuit. Hlubek was the band's original vocalist, prior to Danny Joe Brown's joining. Hlubek also wrote and co-produced the majority of the band's songs.
The result of the teaming of Tom Werman, a producer known for working with straight hard-rock acts, with a Southern-influenced band led to a new development in the Southern rock genre. Combining boogie, blues and hard rock, Molly Hatchet's sound was differentiated from more country-influenced acts such as The Outlaws. Perhaps more effectively than most other Southern rock acts, their music expressed the values, hopes - and excesses - of 1970s working-class youth in a Southern metropolitan area like Jacksonville.
The band recorded and released its first album, Molly Hatchet in 1978, followed by Flirtin' with Disaster in 1979. Molly Hatchet proceeded to tour behind the record and gained an increasing fan base. Some observers note that certain "success syndrome" problems led singer Danny Joe Brown, whose gruff voice and tough yet amicable persona had defined the act to that point, to leave the band at the end of the 1970s.
In 1980 Brown left the group to form The Danny Joe Brown Band (with future Molly Hatchet guitarist Bobby Ingram) and was replaced by vocalist Jimmy Farrar. Along with Farrar came a new approach to the band's sound. The earlier albums are said to feature more variation in guitar tone and style, along with a more overt southern influence, which changed with the addition of Farrar on vocals. By this time, other acts such as Van Halen had made harder metal-influenced rock one of the more popular in the 1980s. This fact was not lost on the band and its producer. Danny Joe Brown's stage persona, gruff voice and cowboy horse-whistling had matched well with the overtly southern influenced sounds of his era. Molly Hatchet's carefully crafted downhome, rough boy image certainly was not in opposition to Farrar's aggressive vocal work. This new vocal style mixed with the new harder-rocking sound saw Molly Hatchet briefly become the most popular Southern Rock act for a short time in the early 1980s. In contrast, by 1982, .38 Special enjoyed a string of hits and MTV videos in the early 1980s with a polished style that had moved even farther from the traditional country/southern sound.
With the success of a more, harder-rocking "Beatin' the Odds" release, the band ventured even farther away from their original sound. By 1981, Molly Hatchet had almost completely abandoned their original style of 1978 for a straight ahead rock style exhibited on the Take No Prisoners release of the same year. This album had a less-than-warm reception from many of the fans of the original sound and while the band was still successful on the touring circuit, Farrar left the act in 1981.
Brown rejoined the band in 1982 and Banner Thomas left and was replaced by Riff West. B.B. Bordan (also known as B.B. Queen, playing drums for Mother's Finest) replaced Crump on Drums. In 1983, a new album was released titled No Guts... No Glory. Steve Holland left and was replaced by keyboardist John Galvin. This period saw the band return to its more overt southern style it had displayed on its debut record in 1978. However, with the addition of keyboards into the mix, the band managed to take this sound to an even more orchestrated approach on some songs such as "Fall of the Peacemakers". Critics hailed the "No Guts....No Glory" album as the band's true return to form, but southern rock no longer enjoyed the widespread appeal it had previously. As a result, the record went largely unnoticed, in contrast to the glory years of 1979's "Flirtin' With Disaster", but did rejuvenate interest from the band's fan base, who had started to drift after the uncharacteristic "Take No Prisoners" album of 1981.
In 1984 came the release of a new album The Deed Is Done for which Bruce Crump returned to replace B.B. Bordan on drums. Then in 1985, the double live album Double Trouble Live was released. In 1989 the album Lightning Strikes Twice was released, in which Dave Hlubek left and was replaced by Bobby Ingram.
In 1991, the greatest hits collection Greatest Hits was released. The band continued to play selected shows and tours but pulled back from recording more new albums for a time. However, by the mid-1990s, they were again working on a new studio album.
In 1996 due to a stroke and illness Brown had to leave the band, bringing in lead singer Phil McCormack to finish the album Devil's Canyon in 1996. During the later 1990s, the band was curiously comprised of a lineup which contained not a single original member who had performed on the debut self-titled album or "Flirtin with Disaster"; Bobby Ingram had obtained a license from the original members to work with the name. As Ingram had recorded on the last Molly Hatchet album that featured the original members, he was technically considered an "original" member himself. Tours during the late 1990s saw enthusiastic audiences largely unconcerned with this fact. At this point, the band consisted of vocalist Phil McCormack, guitarists Bobby Ingram and Bryan Bassett, keyboardist John Galvin, bassist Andy McKinney, and drummer Mac Crawford.
In 1998 Silent Reign Of Heroes was released. In 1999, the band traveled coast to coast with Charlie Daniels and the Volunteer Jam.
In 2000, the album The Kingdom Of XII was released in Europe. The band went on tour to promote this album. It was released in the United States in 2001. Locked and Loaded and 25th Anniversary: Best Of Re-Recorded (2003) and Warriors of the Rainbow Bridge (2005) followed.
In June of 2000, Ingram became the sole owner of the Trade and Service Mark "Molly Hatchet" acquired from Pat Armstrong the original manager of the band. Armstrong had the rights and a full assignment was transferred to Ingram and now is the sole and legal owner of the name, likeness, and has full rights, title, goodwill and interest in the Mark from the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, D.C.
In January 2005, Ingram invited Hlubek to rejoin Molly Hatchet where he remains today.
Danny Joe Brown died on March 10, 2005, less than an hour after returning to his home in Davie, Florida from a four week hospitalization. He was 53. He had previously left the group due to the suffering from a massive stroke in 1995 while driving to his brother's house. After a long battle with diabetes and the effects of the stroke, Brown was able to take the stage one last time at the Jammin' for DJB benefit concert in 1998 where with the help of his friends he ended the show with "Flirtin' with Disaster."
On Monday, June 19, 2006, founding guitarist Duane Roland died at his home in St. Augustine, Florida at the age of 53 according to Bobby Ingram on the Molly Hatchet MySpace website. His death was listed as being of "natural causes" according to a June 25, 2006 The Boston Globe Associated Press obituary .
Several of the band's original members have joined and are currently touring with Gator Country.