The First Coast area’s ample music scene has produced a lot of talent over the years. Here are a few major bands from Jacksonville, FL.
(Years active: 1964-1977 [original lineup], 1987 – present)
Lynyrd Skynyrd formed in 1964 as a group of three friends attending Robert E. Lee High School, under the name “My Backyard”. By 1969, they became Lynyrd Skynyrd, a name based on a high school gym teacher who was a bit too strict on boys with long hair. The band quickly rose to prominence in the Jacksonville scene, playing with other local favorites such as The Allman Brothers. Soon they would be discovered nationally and signed to a major label. Their biggest hit “Sweet Home Alabama” remains a southern anthem to this day, and another song “Free Bird” lives on in the form of cover versions by just about every rock group in existence.
Tragically, the band in its original form would cease to exist in 1977, when several band and crew members including lead singer Ronnie Van Zandt died in a plane crash.
(Years active: 1974 – present)
Speaking of Van Zandts, in 1974 Ronnie’s brother Donnie Van Zandt formed southern rock band .38 Special with friend Don Barnes. .38 Special would enjoy quite a bit of mainstream success with the rise of arena rock. Along with three platinum albums, the group would also score five top-20 hits, culminating in their 1989 hit “Second Chance” peaking at #6. The band would go inactive a few years later, but a mix of original and later members continue to tour to this day.
(Years active: 1997 – present)
Yellowcard formed in Jacksonville in 1997, recording their debut album here prior to relocating to Los Angeles in 2000. Their biggest hit, “Ocean Avenue”, was based upon their younger days in the Jacksonville Beach area.
(Years active: 1994 – 2006, 2009 – present)
Nu-metal band Limp Bizkit formed in Jacksonville in the mid-1990s and quickly became a local hit, dominating the punk scene at venues like the now-defunct “Milk Bar” downtown. They were able to impress well-known bands such as Sugar Ray and Korn; Korn would then end up hiring Limp Bizkit as an opener, leading them to finally be signed by a national label. The band went from a local cult hit to a national cult hit, having four platinum albums culminating in 2000’s “Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water” selling 8 million copies. After a hiatus in 2006, the band reunited in 2009 and continues to be active to this day.
(Years active: 2001 – present)
Hard rock band Shinedown formed here in 2001. Unlike the other bands listed, Shinedown never had much of a struggle to get off the ground, having been signed with a major record label from the very beginning. The band honored their heritage by including a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” on their debut album. The band’s biggest hit, “Second Chance”, reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2008 and reached triple-platinum status. Of all five bands listed, Shinedown is the most active currently; their 2015 album “Threat to Survival” reached #6 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart.