Molly Hatchet is an American southern rock band formed in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1971. They are widely known for their hit song "Flirtin' with Disaster" from the album of the same title. The band, founded by Dave Hlubek and Steve Holland, took its name from a prostitute who allegedly mutilated and decapitated her clients.
Based in Jacksonville, Fla., Molly Hatchet shared influences and inspiration with the most well-known act in the Southern rock genre, Lynyrd Skynyrd as well as another up-and-coming Southern Rock act, .38 Special whose singer was Donnie Van Zant, the brother of late Lynyrd Skynyrd lead vocalist, Ronnie Van Zant. .38 Special enjoyed influential connections in the music industry, referring Molly Hatchet to manager Pat Armstrong. His interest in Molly Hatchet led to a recording contract with Epic Records, bringing in Tom Werman as a producer. Werman had already worked with acts such as Cheap Trick, Stranger and Ted Nugent. Ronnie Van Zant was stated to produce Molly Hatchet's first album, having helped write arrangements and directing rehearsals prior to his fatal airplane crash. Molly Hatchet cut their first demos in Lynyrd Skynyrd's 8-track recording studio using their equipment.
Prior to the band's signing with Epic Records, they often toured the Florida roadhouse and bar circuit. Dave Hlubek was the band's vocalist prior to Danny Joe Brown, and wrote and co-produced many of the band's songs. Hlubek has stated that the demise of Lynyrd Skynyrd - who were at the height of their success - opened the door for Molly Hatchet.
The result of the teaming of Tom Werman, a producer known for working with straight hard-rock acts, with a Southern-influenced band led to a new development in the Southern rock genre. Combining boogie, blues and hard rock, Molly Hatchet's sound was differentiated from more country-influenced acts such as Outlaws. Like the area's other Southern rock acts, their music typically expressed the values, hopes - and excesses - of 1970s-era young adults in a Southern metropolitan area like Jacksonville.
The band recorded and released its first album, Molly Hatchet in 1978, followed by Flirtin' with Disaster in 1979. Molly Hatchet proceeded to tour behind the record building a larger fan base. Danny Joe Brown, whose gruff voice and tough yet amicable persona had defined the act to that point, left the band at the end of the 1970s only to return a number of years later.
In 1980 Brown left the group to form The Danny Joe Brown Band with future Molly Hatchet guitarist Bobby Ingram. Brown was replaced by vocalist Jimmy Farrar. Along with Farrar came a new approach to the band's sound. The earlier albums feature more variation in guitar tone and style and exhibit a distinct southern cultural influence - which changed with the addition of Farrar on vocals. By this time, other acts such as Van Halen had made harder metal-influenced rock more popular in the 1980s. This fact was not lost on the band and its producer. Danny Joe Brown's stage persona, gruff voice and cowboy horse-whistling had matched well with the overtly southern-influenced sounds of his era. Farrar's new vocal style, mixed with the new harder-rocking sound saw Molly Hatchet saw a rise in popularity in the early 1980s. In contrast, .38 Special enjoyed a string of hits and MTV videos in the early 1980s with a polished style that had moved even farther from the traditional country/southern sound.
With the success of a more, harder-rocking Beatin' the Odds release, the band ventured even farther away from their original sound. By 1981, Molly Hatchet had almost completely abandoned their original style of 1978 for a straight-ahead rock style exhibited on the Take No Prisoners release of the same year. This album had a less-than-warm reception from many of the fans of the original sound and while the band was still successful on the touring circuit, Banner Thomas left in late 1981 and was replaced by Riff West, while Farrar left the act in May 1982.
Brown rejoined the band in 1982 and B. B. Bordan (also known as B. B. Queen, playing drums for Mother's Finest) replaced Crump on drums. In 1983, a new album was released titled No Guts... No Glory. Holland left in 1984 and was replaced by keyboardist John Galvin. This period saw the band return to its more overt southern style it had displayed on its debut record in 1978. However, with the addition of keyboards into the mix, the band managed to take this sound to an even more orchestrated approach on some songs such as "Fall of the Peacemakers". Critics hailed the No Guts...No Glory album as the band's true return to form, but southern rock no longer enjoyed the widespread appeal it had previously. As a result, the record went largely unnoticed, in contrast to the glory years of 1979's Flirtin' With Disaster, but did rejuvenate interest from the band's fan base, who had started to drift after the uncharacteristic Take No Prisoners album of 1981.
In 1984 came the release of a new album The Deed Is Done for which Bruce Crump returned to replace B.B. Borden on drums. Then in 1985, the double live album Double Trouble Live was released. Hlubek left in early 1987. In 1989 the album Lightning Strikes Twice was released, featuring Hlubek's replacement Bobby Ingram. 1990 saw the announcement of Molly Hatchet's final show in Ohio.
In 1991, the greatest hits collection Greatest Hits was released. The 1990 retirement announcement couldn't keep a revised band from reforming around Brown & Ingram. The new lineup played selected shows and tours but pulled back from recording more new albums for a time. However, by the mid-1990s, they were again working on a new studio album.
In 1996 due to a stroke and illness, Brown had to leave the band, who brought in lead singer Phil McCormack ( formerly of the Northern Virginia band The RoadDucks) to finish the album Devil's Canyon in 1996. During the rest of the 1990s, the band's lineup curiously contained not a single original member who had performed in Molly Hatchet prior to 1984; Bobby Ingram had obtained a license from the original members to work with the name. As Ingram had recorded on the last Molly Hatchet album that featured the original members, he was technically considered an "original" member himself, as was John Galvin. Tours during the late 1990s saw enthusiastic audiences largely unconcerned with this fact. At this point, the band consisted of vocalist Phil McCormack, guitarists Bobby Ingram and Bryan Bassett, keyboardist John Galvin, bassist Andy McKinney, and drummer Mac Crawford.
In 1998, the band released Silent Reign Of Heroes. In 1999, the band traveled coast to coast with Charlie Daniels and the Volunteer Jam. Guitarist Mike Owings joins in June 1999 and tours until March 2000 when he departs due to health reasons. This is the last line up of three guitars.
In 2000, the album The Kingdom Of XII was released in Europe. The band went on tour to promote this album. It was released in the United States in 2001. Locked and Loaded and 25th Anniversary: Best Of Re-Recorded (2003) and Warriors of the Rainbow Bridge (2005) followed.
In June 2000, Ingram became the sole owner of the Trade and Service Mark "Molly Hatchet" acquired from Pat Armstrong the original manager of the band. Armstrong had the rights and a full assignment was transferred to Ingram and now is the sole and legal owner of the name, likeness, and has full rights, title, goodwill and interest in the Mark from the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, D.C.
In January 2005, Ingram invited Hlubek to rejoin Molly Hatchet where he remains today.
Danny Joe Brown died on March 10, 2005, less than an hour after returning to his home in Davie, Florida from a four week hospitalization. He was 53. He had previously left the group after suffering a massive stroke in 1995 while driving to his brother's house. In defiance to a long battle with diabetes and the effects of the stroke, Brown was able to take the stage one last time at the Jammin' for DJB benefit concert in 1998 where with the help of his friends he ended the show with "Flirtin' with Disaster".
On Monday, , 2006, founding guitarist Duane Roland died at his home in St. Augustine, Florida at the age of 53 according to Bobby Ingram on the Molly Hatchet MySpace website. His death was listed as being of "natural causes" according to a , 2006 The Boston Globe Associated Press obituary .
Former Molly Hatchet members Steve Holland, Bruce Crump, Jimmy Farrar and Riff West perform together in a group called Gator Country. Original guitarist Duane Roland also played in this group from its inception in 2005 until his death in 2006.