Molly Hatchet at Hellfest 2012
|Origin||Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.|
|Past members||Dave Hlubek|
Danny Joe Brown
Molly Hatchet was founded by guitarist Dave Hlubek in 1971. The band originated and was based in Jacksonville, Florida and shared influences and inspiration with what is perhaps the most well-known act in the Southern rock genre, Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Molly Hatchet was followed by Flirtin' with Disaster in September 1979, with its title song another AOR hit, as was its first track, "Whiskey Man", from the album. Molly Hatchet proceeded to tour behind the records, building a larger fan base. Lead singer Danny Joe Brown left the band in May 1980 due to diabetes and other reasons, only to return two years later.
After Danny Joe Brown left Molly Hatchet, he formed the Danny Joe Brown Band. Brown was replaced in 1980 in Molly Hatchet by vocalist Jimmy Farrar, a native of LaGrange, Georgia. The earlier albums seemed to some commentators to exhibit a distinct southern cultural influence; that sound changed with the addition of Farrar. Danny Joe Brown's stage persona, gruff voice, and cowboy horse-whistling was replaced by Jimmy Farrar's new vocal style, mixed with a new, harder-rocking sound. With the success of the next album, Beatin' the Odds, released September 1980, the band ventured away from the Southern rock sound of their first albums.
By 1981, Molly Hatchet had evolved to a straight-ahead rock style and a slicker production, as exhibited on Take No Prisoners (November 1981). The band remained a successful act on the touring circuit.
Longtime bass player Banner Thomas left in November 1981 and was replaced by Riff West. And in 1982, drummer B. B. Borden (also known as B. B. Queen as a member of the funk rock band Mother's Finest) replaced Crump, who had moved to Los Angeles.
Farrar then left the group to make way for Brown's return. He would later rejoin other members of Molly Hatchet in Southern Rock Allstars and Gator Country. Brown rejoined the band in May 1982 after the departure of Farrar.
During the summer of 1983, Hatchet was touring with fellow Jacksonville natives Blackfoot. But just before a gig in Kansas City, Kansas, Brown, Holland and Roland decided to leave and return home, leaving only Hlubek, Borden and West to play the show. After a quick rehearsal backstage, Blackfoot's Rickey Medlocke took Brown's place as front man and their guitarist, Charlie Hargrett, played behind Hlubek's lead. Danny and the other guys re-joined the tour the next day.
But guitarist Holland decided to leave for good in 1984 and was replaced by former Danny Joe Brown Band keyboardist John Galvin.
This period saw the band return to the more overt Southern style it had displayed on its debut record in 1978. Critics hailed No Guts...No Glory as the band's return to form and did rejuvenate interest from the band's fan base, who had started to drift away after the Take No Prisoners album of 1981.
November 1985 saw the unveiling of the band's double live album Double Trouble Live, after which the band was dropped by Epic and the group's members began to ponder changing singers again to pursue more of an "80s pop rock sound". They ended up retaining Brown and their Southern Rock style despite it being increasingly out of fashion in the mid-80s.
Guitarist/founder Hlubek, who later admitted to suffering from drug troubles, left Molly Hatchet in January 1987. He was replaced by Bobby Ingram, who had contributed backup vocals to Double Trouble, had played as a guitarist in the Danny Joe Brown Band and had also played earlier with Brown in Rum Creek.
Drummer Scott Zsymoski filled in for Crump during the summer of 1988 while Bruce was home with his wife as she was giving birth to their baby. And in August 1989, the album Lightning Strikes Twice saw the band now on RCA Records and was the first to feature Ingram.
On July 8, 1990 Molly Hatchet, who had been dropped by RCA after Lighting Strikes Twice had failed to sell in big numbers, announced at a show in Toledo, Ohio that the concert would be their final one, that after that night the band would be disbanding.
In late 1990, a revised band led by Brown and Ingram featured new players Rik Blanz (guitar), Rob Scavetto (keyboards), Eddie Rio (bass) and David Feagle (drums). But the Hatchet's lineup in the 1990s was a bit of a revolving door. Rio was replaced in 1991 by Rob Sweat and then Kevin Rian. Feagle was succeeded the same year by drummer Kenny Holton. Blanz left in mid-1991, Phil McCormack stood in for Brown briefly in early 1992 and by 1993 the lineup was: Brown, Ingram, Erik Lundgren (guitar, from Johnny Van Zant's band), Mac Crawford (drums) and a returning Banner Thomas (bass), with Mike Kach (keyboards), who was replaced in 1994 by Andy Orth. Bryan Bassett (ex-Wild Cherry) took over as second guitarist in 1994 and Buzzy Meekins (formerly of the Outlaws) was bassist after Banner left again in 1995.
During the first half of the 1990s, Molly Hatchet played selected shows and tours but did not record again until 1995 when they began working on a new studio album with German producer Kalle Trapp.
In April 1995, after continuing health problems, Brown had to once again leave the band and Jimmy Farrar was brought back for a few weeks to front the group and help "legitimize" the current version. But the crowd reaction to Farrar being back wasn't overly positive and Ingram and Brown together made the decision to bring back Brown's 1992 stand-in, Phil McCormack, as the permanent replacement. McCormack fronted the band for their next album Devil's Canyon (June 1996).
During the rest of the 1990s, the band's line-up did not feature any of the members who had performed in Molly Hatchet prior to 1984. Bobby Ingram leased, then obtained in 2000, the trademark ownership to work with the name. At this point, the band consisted of vocalist Phil McCormack, guitarists Bobby Ingram and Bryan Bassett, returning keyboardist John Galvin, bassist Andy McKinney and drummer Mac Crawford. In 1998 this line-up recorded the album Silent Reign of Heroes (June 1998).
In 1997 keyboardist Tim Donovan began filling in for Galvin on the road and Sean Shannon became the group's new drummer in 1998 after Crawford left. In 1999 the band traveled coast to coast that year with Charlie Daniels and the Volunteer Jam.
Former Hatchet singer Danny Joe Brown, despite a long battle with diabetes and the effects of a stroke, was able to take the stage one last time at the Jammin' for DJB benefit concert organized by former Hatchet bassist Riff West on July 18, 1999 at Orlando, Florida's Club LaVela. With the help of his friends and former members Bruce Crump, Banner Thomas, Steve Holland and Dave Hlubek, he ended the show with "Flirtin' with Disaster".
In June 2000 Bobby Ingram became the sole owner of the trade and service mark "Molly Hatchet", acquired from Pat Armstrong, the band's early manager. Also in 2000, Kingdom of XII was recorded and released in Europe, and the band then toured Europe to promote the album. It was released in the United States in June 2001. After the recording of Kingdom, guitarist Russ Maxwell came aboard after Bassett left the group to rejoin Foghat, then Shawn Beamer (from Southern Rock Rebellion) replaced Sean Shannon in the fall of 2001. Bassist Jerry Scott (formerly with Brian Howe's band) joined in early 2002 after McKinney departed.
That same year, Ingram took a short break from touring after suffering a heart attack, and the band continued with only Maxwell on guitar.
Locked and Loaded (a live recording from 2000) was released in March 2003 and 25th Anniversary: Best of Re-Recorded followed in January 2004.
John Galvin, though he continued to appear on the band's albums, was again not touring with the band in the 2000s (except for a short European tour in December 2001). Tim Donovan (1997-2002), Scott Woods (2002), Jeff Ravenscraft (2003-2004), Gary Corbett (2004) and Richie Del Favero (2004-2005) played live keyboards up until 2005, after which the group dispensed with having a touring keyboardist for a while.
Bassist Jerry Scott was replaced by J.J. Strickland in May 2003, before Tim Lindsey, former Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Rossington Band, Artimus Pyle Band and the Mind Garden (with Dave Hlubek) bassist coming full circle back to his roots, took over in February 2004. Maxwell left the next month, with Jake Rutter taking his place.
Warriors of the Rainbow Bridge (May 2005) featured the return of Hlubek after Rutter had left. But another guitarist, Jimbo Manion, played alongside Ingram until Hlubek had satisfied his other commitments and was able to return full time later that year.
Danny Joe Brown died on March 10, 2005 at his home in Davie, Florida. He was 53. The cause was kidney failure. On June 19, 2006 guitarist Duane Roland died at his home in St. Augustine, Florida at the age of 53. His death was listed as being of "natural causes" according to a June 25, 2006 obituary in The Boston Globe.
During the spring of 2006, David "Dino" Ramsey sat in for singer McCormack, who had taken ill.
In 2008 keyboardist John Galvin returned to the live stage again after Hlubek's recurring health issues prevented him from appearing at all of the band's gigs.
In 2011 drummer Shawn Beamer had a heart attack and a temporary drummer Scott Craig was brought in. In 2013, Beamer returned to the band.
From 2014 through 2019 there were a wave of deaths of former Hatchet members; Bass guitarist Riff West died on November 19, 2014, at age 64, after injuries suffered in a car accident. Drummer Bruce Crump died on March 16, 2015, at age 57, from complications after a twelve-year battle with throat cancer. Bass guitarist Banner Thomas (born Banner Harvey Thomas on September 6, 1954 in Savannah, Georgia), age 62, died from complications of pneumonia and rheumatoid arthritis on April 10, 2017. Dave Hlubek died of a heart attack on September 2, 2017, at the age of 66. Jimmy Farrar, who was frontman from 1980 to 1982, died of heart failure on October 29, 2018, at 67. And Singer Phil McCormack died on April 26, 2019 at 58.
McCormack had been sidelined in early 2019 after suffering from health troubles that affected his voice. He was replaced by singer Jimmy Elkins, who continued on with Hatchet after McCormack's death.
Molly Hatchet took its name from a prostitute who allegedly mutilated and decapitated her clients. One iconic aspect of Molly Hatchet's image is that many of the band's album covers feature art inspired by heroic fantasy, several of which were painted by artists such as Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo, and Paul R. Gregory.
|Year||Album||Peak chart positions||Certification|
|1979||Flirtin' with Disaster||19||54||2xPlatinum||Gold|
|1980||Beatin' the Odds||25||90||Platinum||—|
|1981||Take No Prisoners||36||—||—||—|
|1983||No Guts...No Glory||59||—||—||—|
|1984||The Deed Is Done||120||—||—||—|
|1989||Lightning Strikes Twice||—||—||—||—|
|1998||Silent Reign of Heroes||—||—||—||—|
|2000||Kingdom of XII||—||—||—||—|
|2005||Warriors of the Rainbow Bridge||—||—||—||—|
|2008||Southern Rock Masters||—||—||—||—|
|2012||Regrinding the Axes||—||—||—||—|
|"—" denotes the album failed to chart, not released, or not certified|
|Year||Album||Peak chart positions|
|1981||Molly Hatchet Live E/P/A Series||—||—|
|1985||Double Trouble Live||130||94|
|2000||Live at the Agora Ballroom Atlanta Georgia 1979||—||—|
|2003||Locked and Loaded||—||—|
|Greatest Hits Live||—||—|
|2007||Flirtin' with Disaster Live||—||—|
|2013||Live At Rockpalast 1996||—||—|
|"—" denotes album that failed to chart|
|1995||Cut to the Bone||—|
|2003||The Essential Molly Hatchet||—|
|25th Anniversary: Best of Re-Recorded||—|
|2011||Greatest Hits II||—|
|"—" denotes album that's not certified|
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Album|
|1980||"Flirtin' With Disaster"||42||—||Flirtin' with Disaster|
|1981||"The Rambler"||91||—||Beatin' the Odds|
|1982||"Bloody Reunion"||—||31||Take No Prisoners|
|1984||"Satisfied Man"||81||13||The Deed Is Done|
|1985||"Stone in Your Heart"||—||26|