The Georgia Satellites

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The Georgia Satellites
Also known asKeith and the Satellites (1980-1982)
OriginAtlanta, Georgia, United States
Genres
Years active
  • 1980–1984
  • 1985–1990
  • 1993–present
LabelsElektra
Members
  • Rick Richards
  • Todd Johnston
  • Fred McNeal
  • Bruce Smith
Past members
  • Dan Baird
  • Keith Christopher
  • David Michaelson
  • Dave Hewitt
  • Randy DeLay
  • Rick Price
  • Mauro Magellan
  • Billy Pitts
  • Jeremy Graf
  • Kenny Head
  • Mac Crawford
  • Joey Huffman

The Georgia Satellites are an American Southern rock band from Atlanta, Georgia. They achieved mainstream success with their 1986 self-titled debut album, featuring their best-known single "Keep Your Hands to Yourself", which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Two more albums followed – Open All Night (1988) and the band's last to feature original material In the Land of Salvation and Sin (1989) – before they went on hiatus in 1990.

The Georgia Satellites resurfaced in 1993 and have since continued to perform live. Their latest studio album to date is 1996's Shaken Not Stirred, which includes re-recordings of the band's older material, in addition to eight new songs. They have experienced numerous lineup changes in their career, with lead guitarist and vocalist Rick Richards being the only constant member. Their current lineup includes Richards, drummer Todd Johnston, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Fred McNeal and bassist Bruce Smith.

History[edit]

Early years (1980–1985)[edit]

In 1980, Dan Baird (formerly guitarist for the Atlanta band the Nasty Bucks), along with lead guitarist Rick Richards, bassist Keith Christopher and drummer David Michaelson formed a band named Keith and the Satellites in Atlanta, Georgia. After performing in local bars, the band's line-up changed. With a new bassist, Dave Hewitt (previously with Babe Ruth), and a new drummer, Randy DeLay, they recorded a six-track demo at Axis Studios in Atlanta. During this time, the band changed its name to Georgia Satellites and played every Monday at Hedgens, a bar in the Atlanta neighborhood of Buckhead.

Jeff Glixman, who had produced, mixed and remastered artists such as Paul Stanley, Kansas, Gary Moore, Yngwie Malmsteen and Black Sabbath, was enlisted for production. However, soon after the demo was recorded, the band broke up in the summer of 1984. DeLay later performed with the Tony Sarno Band and the Hell Hounds around the Atlanta music circuit, before dying of cancer in 1993 at age 40.

Although the band members felt they were not making any progress on their musical path and had disbanded, their English manager, Kevin Jennings, took the demo to a small Yorkshire record label, Making Waves, who liked the material and released the demo as the Keep the Faith EP in 1985.[1] The press response to the EP was positive and prompted the band to regroup in the United States. Baird had been playing with the Woodpeckers in North Carolina. Richards remained in Atlanta with the Hell Hounds, which included both Mauro Magellan (drums) and Rick Price (bass, formerly of the Brains). With Baird essentially joining the Hell Hounds, the Georgia Satellites were reborn and American record labels started taking notice of the band.

Mainstream popularity and hiatus (1986–1993)[edit]

In 1986, the group signed with Elektra Records and reunited with Glixman to record their debut full-length album at Cheshire Sound Studios in Atlanta.[1] The album, Georgia Satellites, was their most successful LP, featuring the track "Keep Your Hands to Yourself". The song reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100,[1] kept from the top spot by Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer". It went into heavy rotation on MTV. Other lesser-known songs included "Battleship Chains" (No. 86), written by Terry Anderson and "Can't Stand the Pain", but the Satellites never had another top 40 hit.[1] That same year the MTV Video Music Awards came into being. Mary Deacon won for Best Art Director for the music video "Keep Your Hands to Yourself".

In 1988, the band recorded a cover of The Swinging Blue Jeans' 1964 hit "Hippy Hippy Shake" for the movie Cocktail.[1] Released as a single, the song reached No. 45 on the Billboard chart. The band also released its second album that year, Open All Night, which included a cover of the Ringo Starr-written Beatles song "Don't Pass Me By," though the album was not as successful as the band's debut.[1] The lead single, "Open All Night" (backed with "Dunk 'n' Dine"), failed to chart.

A third studio album, In the Land of Salvation and Sin, was released in 1989, which included re-recordings of "Six Years Gone" and "Crazy" from the 1985 EP. Although it received positive reviews, it also failed to do well commercially, and Baird left the band in 1990 to pursue a solo career.[1] Of his departure, Baird said, "It came about by my inability to turn in really good shows."[2] He elaborated, saying, "I developed a very shitty attitude about the band. So, one morning I woke up and fired myself. We were together for 10 years and we weren't able to inspire each other anymore. It's like any relationship that starts getting too old. There was just certain things that started getting lackadaisical."[3]

The band's 1993 compilation Let It Rock: The Best of the Georgia Satellites included a selection of the best tracks from the three studio albums and bonus material that had been released on the Another Chance EP (1989): "Saddle Up," "That Woman," and "I'm Waiting for the Man." Also included was a live version of Chuck Berry's "Let It Rock."

Reunion (1993–present)[edit]

After a brief sabbatical following the departure of Dan Baird, the Georgia Satellites reunited in 1993. Their current lineup, led by original member Rick Richards (lead guitar, backing and lead vocals), along with Fred McNeal (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Bruce Smith (bass, backing vocals) and Todd Johnston (drums) continues to perform live shows. The most recent album, Shaken Not Stirred (1996), was a mix of re-recordings of their earlier material and eight new songs: "Running Out," "Let It Rock (Bye Bye Johnny)," "Deep in the Heart of Dixie," "Anna Lee," "My Fault," "Shaken Not Stirred," "She Fades Away" and "Rain."

Baird performs with his band, Homemade Sin, which features three former members of the Georgia Satellites. Mauro Magellan joined The Crashers after moving to Wisconsin in the early 1990s. Mauro played on both of Baird's solo albums and continues to tour with him as a member of Homemade Sin, which also includes bassist Keith Christopher, formerly of Keith and the Satellites. In addition, Baird performs as a member of the country groups Trent Summar & The New Row Mob and The Yayhoos.

Along with his commitment to the Georgia Satellites, Richards also plays in former Guns N' Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin's band. They toured in the early 1990s and have recorded 11 albums. Richards, along with ex-Satellites manager Kevin Jennings, released an album entitled For Ol' Times Sake in 2013 as The Western Sizzlers, which enlisted the talents of Charlie Starr of Blackberry Smoke as well as seasoned Atlanta musicians Nicky Ford, Jeff Bakos, and Kevin "Snit" Fitzpatrick.

In September 2015, Richards reported to Hartford Courant that The Georgia Satellites were working on new music.[4] In an April 2021 interview, however, Richards stated that the band has no plans to release a new album.[5] The band released Lightnin' in a Bottle, a live album recorded in 1988 in Cleveland, on March 11, 2022.[6]

Personnel[edit]

Musicians[edit]

Timeline[edit]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Year Album US Top 200 AUS[7] Certifications
1986 Georgia Satellites 5 28
  • US: Platinum[8]
1988 Open All Night 77 -
1989 In the Land of Salvation and Sin 130 -
1996 Shaken Not Stirred - -

EPs[edit]

  • Keep the Faith (1985)
  • Let It Rock (1989)
  • Never Stop Rockin' (1990)

Compilations[edit]

  • Let It Rock: The Best of the Georgia Satellites (1993)

Live albums[edit]

  • Lightnin' in a Bottle (2022)

Singles[edit]

Year Song US Hot 100 Rock AUS[7][9] UK Singles Chart[10] CAN
1986 "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" 2 2 20 69 3
"Battleship Chains" 86 11 82 44
"Railroad Steel" 34
1988 "Open All Night" 6
"Hippy Hippy Shake" 45 13 37 63
"Don't Pass Me By" 33
1990 "All Over But the Cryin'" 17

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Colin Larkin, ed. (2003). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Eighties Music (Third ed.). Virgin Books. p. 216. ISBN 1-85227-969-9.
  2. ^ Puterbaugh, Parke (January 7, 1993). "Dan Baird's dixie-fried love". Rolling Stone. No. 647. New York: Rolling Stone Licensing LLC. p. 16. ProQuest 220145978. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  3. ^ Rosen, Craig (November 7, 1992). "Baird Begins Solo Orbit with Def American Debut". Billboard. Vol. 104, no. 45. New York: Prometheus Global Media. p. 17. ProQuest 227000150. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  4. ^ Condran, Ed. "Southern Rockers Georgia Satellites To Give Fans A Trip Down Memory Lane At Infinity". courant.com. Retrieved February 25, 2022.
  5. ^ Dean, Mark (16 April 2021). "(Mark Dean Interviews) Madness To Creation Podcast Ep. 29: Rick Richards of GEORGIA SATELLITES". scholasticperspectives.com. Retrieved February 25, 2022.
  6. ^ Hudak, Joseph (3 November 2021). "A Rare Georgia Satellites Concert Album Is Finally Getting Released". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 25, 2022.
  7. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 123. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  8. ^ "Gold & Platinum". RIAA. Retrieved 2019-10-21.
  9. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt Martha, Victoria, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 113.
  10. ^ "GEORGIA SATELLITES | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. Retrieved November 4, 2019.

External links[edit]