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Rebel Yell


Rebel Yell: An Oral History of Southern Rock presents the story of a musical genre born in the backwoods, highways, and swamps of Macon, Georgia, and Jacksonville, Florida, in 1969 and peaking in popularity during the 1970s. This history of Southern rock is told by the musicians, roadies, fans, and recording industry folk who lived it. Drawn from literally hundreds of hours of interviews with the author, the book focuses on the "big four"--The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Marshall Tucker Band, and The Charlie Daniels Band--while delving into the careers of other great bands like The Outlaws, Bonnie Bramlett, Cowboy, Wet Willie, and Molly Hatchet. The story is enhanced by the photography of Kirk West, Bill Thames, and others, and includes many never-before-published images. Also included are a series of "Top 20" lists--including the best Southern rock vocalists, guitarists, songs, and more.

Published by Mercer University Press, Macon, Ga., October, 2014


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REBEL YELL is also available at the Allman Brothers Band Big House Museum and at

                                The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Gift Store.

Download the Mercer University Press One-Sheet Promotional Flyer


Comments On Rebel Yell

"Michael Buffalo Smith begins Rebel Yell aptly with an insight of Charlie Daniels', that the brotherhood between Southern musicians is the unifying force behind the genre "Southern Rock" more than any single musical style shared by bands from the South. Smith then invites us to sit at the table with the heroes and legends of the diverse genre: the players, technicians, crew members and friends. I know and love many of them, and they are captured faithfully. Listening to the rambling tale of the extended family my father Duane and his Allman Brothers gave birth to in 1969, the power of the brotherhood is palpable. It is fitting that this history is expressed in the vivid voices of the people who lived it, many who we have since lost. There is no prouder southern tradition than the love of storytelling, except maybe the love of playing music together. There are many twists and turns in this tale, some funny, some tragic, all fascinating and in the end, inspiring. "Rebel Yell" is a gift Smith has given back to the musicians he has always loved, and we all benefit from receiving it."

- Galadrielle Allman
(Author of Please Be with Me: A Song for My Father)

"This is a wonderful way to enter the world of southern rock. "Rebel Yell," straight from the horses mouth - or out of the mouths of babes - however you put it, Michael Buffalo Smith has again shown why he is "The Ambassador of Southern Rock!" I found out things about friends that we had never discussed, and we discussed a lot. Thanks Buffalo.

- Tommy Talton, Guitarist, Singer , Songwriter (founding member of Cowboy)

“When it comes to celebrating, chronicling, and promoting the history of Southern rock, nobody is more passionate than Michael Buffalo Smith. Whether in his original Gritz magazine,  in his Kudzoo digital magazine, on the Kudzoo Radio show, or through his countless freelance articles, liner notes, and blog posts, Smith is a one-man Southern rock history preservation machine. I would not have been able to even think of putting this book together without his truly invaluable pioneering efforts.”

- Scott B. Bomar, from the book Southbound: An Illustrated History of Southern Rock, Backbeat Books, 2014

“Today there are lots of writers interested in what happened during the seventies - and also the sixties - and Buffalo has remained steady on top of getting the job done, before the others have even started. Rebel Yell is an outstanding example of his hard work and dedication.”

- Alan Walden, Former manager of Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Outlaws (as well as Otis Redding)

“A true and fair, tell it like it was, "Keeper of the Flame!" That’s our Michael alright. Sho nuff! Oh! He is also a very good listener. Hence the great storyteller.

- Bonnie Bramlett , Singer and Actress (Delaney & Bonnie, The Allman Brothers Band, etc)

“It's really hard to argue with anything in Michael's book.  Every word's a quote! He did an amazing job of compiling these mini-stories that are not drawn out or boring.  Recommended!”

- Ed King, Guitarist, Lynyrd Skynyrd

“Michael is the  Flannery O’Connor of Southern music, integrity of music and literature. These [the artists in this book] are only a few of the great people and things Buffalo has written about over the last thousand years.”

- Col Bruce Hampton, Performing Artist

“Buffalo knows the tale of Southern Rock inside out and tells it with flair.”

- Alan Paul, Author of One Way Out: The Inside History of The Allman Brothers Band

“Nobody lives, breathes, and bleeds Southern Rock like Michael Buffalo Smith. Rebel Yell is as real as rain.”

- Harvey Dalton Arnold, Recording Artist, former Member of The Outlaws

“Michael Buffalo Smith is the true voice of Southern rock, and Rebel Yell clearly echoes that."

- John Lynskey, Editor, Hittin' the Note magazine

“Few people have been in the trenches and know and truly understand the 'nuts & bolts' of the music called Southern Rock. As an author, composer, recording artist, magazine editor and radio personality, Michael is a living encyclopedia who knows and tells the true and real story.”

- Greg T. Walker, Blackfoot  



Tennessee Libraries Association, April, 2016

Smith, M. B. (2014). Rebel yell: An oral history of Southern Rock. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press. 420 pages. ISBN: 9780881464955

Rebel Yell: An Oral History of Southern Rock is a compilation of hundreds of interviews with the most influential names in Southern Rock over the past twenty-five years by music critic Michael Buffalo Smith. These segments reflect the larger-than-life lives of those for whom drugs, fights, breakups and hookups were a matter of course. Smith’s other writings include newspaper articles, books on Southern Rock, and interviews of people in the music industry.

The Foreword is written by music producer Alan Walden, who has worked with acts such as Boz Scaggs and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Walden acknowledges Smith’s experience in the music industry and applauds his treatment of Southern Rock history as giving proper respect to the music, people, and culture of the South.

Smith uses his Introduction to point out the ambiguity of “Southern Rock.” “If you ask ten people to define the term, you’d most likely get ten different answers” (p. vi). While attesting that Southern Rock is a melting pot of blues, rock, and other music genres, Smith considers rock to be “southern” if most of band members hail from the American South. Smith mentions other definitions of the term by music artists such as Gregg Allman and Charlie Daniels.

Next is the “Cast of Characters” section, which lists the names and short bios of the ninety-one people included in the book. As a reader, I would have preferred the cast of characters be introduced in each section. Putting all ninety-one individuals at the beginning was confusing and frustrating, making it tedious to keep flipping to the front of the book to remind myself who everyone was.

The first four sections of the book are dedicated to The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Marshall Tucker Band, and The Charlie Daniels Band, while the last two include The Capricorn Records Family and “The Second Wave of Southern Rock.” Each of these sections is broken into chapters. Also included are twenty pages of some never-before seen, black and white contemporary photos of many of those mentioned in the book. Appendices include “Southern Rock Lists” and “Band Member Histories.”

Other bands, like 38 Special and Tom Petty, could have been included, but the four groups Smith chose to feature were exceptionally influential to the music of the time and the music that followed.

I enjoyed Rebel Yell immensely and suggest it for scholars and fans of music. It may not be appropriate for children younger than high school because the interviews mention drugs, suggestive situations, and some curse words.

Joanna Anderson
Distance Education Librarian
East Tennessee State University

Hal Stewart, Greenville, SC - "Michael is the Real Deal. He is as direct and honest in his personal life as he is as in his reporting. Reading his books is like sitting down with the artists themselves. Fascinating insights from those who lived it. I highly recommend Rebel Yell, and for insight about the man himself, I also highly recommend Prisoner of Southern Rock."

Stuart Jefferson Amazon Top 100 Reviewer (Four Stars)
This is a great book for fans of "southern rock" bands (a term many band members did not like) like the Allman Bros., Charlie Daniels, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Cowboy, Marshall Tucker, etc. The author, Michael Buffalo Smith, has gathered (literally) a book full of quotes from band members and others and has woven an insider's look at the music from that region and era. This is an oral history of both the bands and their music that's been put together by someone who obviously loves the music. This would be a good book to sit alongside the illustrated book on southern rock, "Southbound: An Illustrated History of Southern Rock", by Scott Bomar.

The many quotes from band members are almost always interesting and sometimes informative, no matter if you read this book from beginning to end, or just browse different parts of the book. This history centers mainly on the areas of Georgia, and Florida where so many bands (like those mentioned above) were formed and played. Besides musicians, you hear from roadies, record industry people, fans, and others, but all who were there when it all happened. Plus, there's some good period photographs--some never seen before--that help focus the written history.

Smith has taken the best parts of hundreds of hours of interviews from the past 25 years (some published, some not until now), and has put together an interesting and just plain fun to read book on this music. If you like the above bands and that entire era of music, this is a book worth reading. Page after page you're privy to the thoughts on the music, the musicians, and the era from those same people. This book is a labor of love and it shows on virtually every page of this intelligent, well laid out book. For fans a worthwhile read.

Brian Howle, Facebook
If you could combine an established, long-time musician with a day job of true journalism to write and report on regional bands and music ... Oh wait, Michael Buffalo Smith did! Your basic must-have for Southern Rock (and true music) aficionados. His latest in a series of great documentation on all things rock in The Chosen Land, Buffalo's catalog is a great gift list for everyone.

Laura Haun Kerns, Facebook 
My friend Michael Buffalo Smith has written 4 books about his time behind the scenes and smack dab in the middle of Southern Rock. I have read one of his books, the Prisoner of Southern Rock. It is like an encyclopedia of bands and the artists who played with different groups along the musical highway. It is a perfect gift for that hard to by for person who has everything else and forgotten so much from the early days of Southern Rock.

Tom Clarke, Facebook
 I'm 3/4 through and thought I knew it all about Southern rock and my favorites the Brothers and Tucker. Well, there's quite a bit I never knew. Michael Buffalo Smith collected incredibly enticing tidbits in his well-thought-out book. I'm loving every second of it! If you like the Marshall Tucker Band especially (for me, so far), the stuff about Toy and Tommy from his band mates alone makes this book essential. But, there's so much more. Excellent, Buff, just excellent.

rockwoman58, Instagram

This is a great read which I highly recommend from someone who has spent a lot of time with the architects of Southern Rock. Great job!!!






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