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38 Special celebrates anniversary of big hit

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Friday, March 18, 2011

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Southern rockers 38 Special have cooked up plenty of memories during the past 38 years, but 2011 brings a particularly pointed anniversary.

It marks 30 years since the group’s fourth album, “Wild-Eyed Southern Boys,” which earned the sextet’s first gold and platinum album certifications and launched its first Top 40 hit, “Hold on Loosely.”

“That’s what really broke it open for 38 Special,” notes singer Donnie Van Zant, 58, the younger brother of two Lynyrd Skynyrd frontmen — the late Ronnie Van Zant and current singer Johnny Van Zant. “I guess (1980’s) ‘Rockin’ Into the Night’ was the first single that got us on the chart, but ‘Wild-Eyed Southern Boys,’ well, that was just a whole lot of records (sold).

“It was a really cool thing, and it really broke us open nationwide. That’s what got us into the ballpark, and it turned out to be really good for 38 Special. We found our little niche there, and we’ve probably sold about 18 million records as of today because of that.”

Van Zant and company are hardly living solely in the past, however. The group is planning to release a new concert album, “Live From Texas,” this year, which will be the first for its newly established 38 Special Records label. A new studio album is also on the horizon, and Van Zant says the band plans “to actually sign other artists we believe in, too.”

“(The label) is something we’ve always wanted to do,” Van Zant says. “We’ve been talking about it for probably three years. We felt like we could do it and we got our heads together and found out it’s a lotta, lotta work. But it’s an exciting thing, an exciting new venture for us here.

“Y’know, we started out as a neighborhood band, and now look at us, with our own record label. We never could have imagined that. It feels pretty good, y’know? It’s a dream come true.”

38 Special performs at 8 p.m. Friday, March 18, at Sound Board in the MotorCity Casino-Hotel, 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $43 and $38. Call 313-237-7711 or visit www.motorcitycasino.com.

Web Site: www.motorcitycasino.com

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