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Michael Ray FitzGerald - Book Signing

Book:  Jacksonville and The Roots of Southern Rock


Media historian Fitzgerald (Swamp Music) positions the north Florida port city of Jacksonville as the crossroads for southern rock in this fun and informative study. He writes that southern rock ‘has no discernible sound or musical character; it can primarily be recognized by its subject matter, which has to do with the provincial men―and occasionally women―of the so-called heartland.’ Fitzgerald smoothly weaves together the stories of bands forming and at times moving on from Jacksonville.  

Michael Ray FitzGerald is a freelance writer and member of Society of Professional Journalists. He has written hundreds of articles for local, regional, national and international publications, including several scholarly journals as well as three books.  FitzGerald has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Jacksonville University, a master’s in mass communication from University of Florida, where he also taught journalism, and a doctorate from University of Reading in Berkshire, England. His primary research area is media history, specializing in film and television. He teaches communication at Flagler College and University of North Florida.

And he plays music in his spare time.


Event date: 
Saturday, October 24, 2020 - 1:00pm to 4:00pm
Event address: 
San Marco Books and More
1971 San Marco Blvd
Jacksonville, FL 32207-3211
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Jacksonville and the Roots of Southern Rock Cover Image
ISBN: 9780813066653
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: University Press of Florida - October 6th, 2020

At long last, there is a comprehensive book about the roots of Southern Rock in Jacksonville, Florida! Author Michael Fitzgerald has written a detailed account of not only the beginnings of Jacksonville’s pride, Lynyrd Skynyrd, but also the seeds that were planted to grow the Allman Brothers band, Cowboy, Molly Hatchet and all of the other greats of the genre. I have studied and written about the subject of Southern Rock for over 30 years, and to me, Jacksonville And the Roots of Southern Rock is mighty close to top of the list of must-read books for anyone looking to discover the very roots of the music. I cannot stress strongly enough just how grateful I am for Fitzgerald’s book.
The author does a fine job of defining the elusive moniker, “Southern Rock,” a term that is truly hard to explain.  Fitzgerald breaks the story into sections devoted to each of the most popular bands that took root in Florida, including The Bitter Ind/31st of February and the Allman Joys that spawned the Allman Brothers Band. There is a full chapter on the Brothers, as well as Boyer and Talton’s band Cowboy, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blackfoot, 38 Special, Molly Hatchet and Derek Trucks.
I was very pleasantly surprised to see a chapter at the start of the book dedicated to the great Gram Parsons. Parsons is known as the ‘father” of West Coast Country Rock, but Fitzgerald explains very nicely how Parsons played heavily into the roots of what we call “Southern Rock.”
The author talks about the importance of AM radio, including Jacksonville’s legendary station, “The Ape,” during the late ‘60’s through the late ‘70’s. His eyewitness stories blend with well researched facts to celebrate the music of the River City. The book is chock full of stories and little known facts about the genre and its artists. It’s a true celebration of the great bands that formed in Jacksonville, Florida. Highly recommended.

-Michael Buffalo Smith