If you’re a fan of long hair and hot guitar licks, chances are you remember 38 Special.
Best known for its 1981 hit “Hold on Loosely,” the Florida-based band is heading north to headline the Lorain County Fair with an opening night concert Aug. 22.
The self-described “Wild-Eyed Southern Boys” (also the title track of their best-selling album) are headed by singer-guitarist Don Barnes.
He’s the last of the band’s line-up from its rock radio heyday, but most of the current members have been playing together two decades. Also on stage at the fair will be guitarist Danny Chauncey, who joined in 1987; keyboardist Bobby Capps (1991); drummer Gary Moffatt (1997); and bassist Barry Dunaway (2014).
Legendary guitarist Donnie Van Zant, who was with 38 Special from its inception in 1974 until 2013, is now retired due to inner-ear nerve damage. He is the brother of Ronnie Van Zant, the original lead singer for Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Boasting more than 20 million album sales, 38 Special continues to play more than 100 cities a year.
“We never wanted to be one of those bands that had maybe gotten a little soft or complacent over the years,” Barnes said. “We’re a team and it’s always been kind of an unspoken rule that we don’t slack up, we stack up. We go out there every night to win.”
Hits such as “Caught Up in You” and “Back Where You Belong” remain radio staples after three decades. Other signature songs include “Rockin’ Into the Night,” “If I’d Been the One,” and “Fantasy Girl.”
“This music keeps our wheels on the road. We’re a band that’s tried to stay honest with what has driven us over the years. We started out with nothing but bold determination to make our own history and to endure,” Barnes said. “Looking back now, it has been our greatest pride to have persevered and attained that level of success and longevity. For us, it’s the ultimate validation.”
Performing Tuesday night in the grandstand will be country star Frankie Ballard, whose song “Helluva Life” broke into the top 15 on the charts in 2013.
He’s also had a pair of top 30 singles with “Tell Me You Get Lonely” and “A Buncha Girls” and has toured with Kenney Chesney, Taylor Swift, and longtime idol Bob Seger.
“My bread and butter is playing live,” said Ballard. “The band and I really hammer the road and I don’t want to slow down. We give everything we’ve got to put on a heck of a show. And the best is when the connection comes through one of your songs. To watch someone sing your song at the top of their lungs because they’ve been through the same thing, well, that means as much to a performer as it does to a fan, and that’s what keeps me going.”
Tickets for each show are $25 and will go on sale Monday, May 23 at 9 a.m. Visit www.loraincountyfair.com for more information.
Courtesy photos Hold on tightly to your tickets — 38 Special is coming to the Lorain County Fair this August.