A memorial service yesterday (July 22) in Eufala, Alabama remembered the contributions of Southern-music mainstay Buddy Buie.
Buie, the force behind both The Classics IV and The Atlanta Rhythm Section, died near there on Saturday July 18. He was 74.
Although he spent most of his career in Atlanta, the producer, manager and songwriter had several ties to Nashville. In addition to many soft-rock hits, he wrote songs recorded by Music City’s Sonny James, Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt and Wynonna Judd, among others.
Born Perry Carlton Buie, he was raised near Dothan, AL. He left Auburn University to pursue a career in music. He first recording studio work was producing singer-songwriter Bobby Goldsboro in Birmingham. The two moved to Nashville, where Goldsboro became a member of Roy Orbison’s band, and Buie became the star’s road manager.
In the mid 1960s, Goldsboro launched his successful solo career, while Buie remained with Orbison and his Candymen. Orbison recorded Buie’s “Afraid to Sleep” in 1965, and Tommy Roe made the charts in 1964 with the songwriter’s “Party Girl.” In 1967, Sandy Posey had a pop hit with his cowritten “I Take It Back.”
Meanwhile, The Candymen got their own recording contract with ABC. Buie produced the group’s 1967 and 1968 LPs and cowrote The Candymen’s only charting single, “Georgia Pines.”
Some of the Candymen formed The Classics IV. Buddy Buie produced all of this group’s hit records. His songwriting collaborator became guitarist J.R. Cobb, and the pair created the group’s 1967-72 hits: “Spooky,” “Traces,” “Stormy,” “Every Day With You Girl,” “Change of Heart” and “What Am I Crying For.”
In 1972, “Traces” became a country hit for Sonny James. Such artists as Ronnie Milsap, Brenda Lee, Gloria Estefan, Bobby Vinton, Johnny Mathis, Mel Torme, The Letterman, Billy Paul and Steve Lawrence have also recorded versions of this song. Buie and Cobb’s cowriter on “Traces” was Emory Gordy Jr., who became a prominent Nashville producer, musician and label executive.
“Spooky” has since been recorded by Dusty Springfield, Andy Williams, David Sanborn, Lydia Lunch, Meco, John Legend and Joan Osborne, among others. Carlos Santana revived “Stormy.”
During his Classics IV period, Buddy Buie was also writing pop singles for B.J. Thomas—“Most of All” (1970) and “Mighty Clouds of Joy” (1971)—as well as another one for Posey, “Something I’ll Remember” (1968). In addition, he produced the 1969 Billy Joe Royal hit “Cherry Hill Park.”
Throughout his hit writing years, Buie and his collaborators would travel to his fishing retreat near Eufala, AL, which was a three-hour drive from Atlanta. The majority of his successful songs were created there.
In the 1970s, he formed BGO Records and the Studio One recording studio in Doraville, GA. Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded its 1973 debut LP at the studio (“Free Bird,” “Gimme Three Steps,” etc.). So did Alicia Bridges (1978’s “I Love the Night Life”), whom Buie co-managed. Buckner & Garcia’s million-selling “Pac-Man Fever” was issued by BGO Records in 1981.
The “house band” at Studio One was created when Buddy Buie took the core of The Classics IV and formed The Atlanta Rhythm Section. These musicians backed others in the studio while working under Buie’s supervision to craft their own albums.
He both managed and produced the group, which eventually rose to the front ranks of Southern rock bands. The ARS had major hits with Buie’s songs “So In To You” (1977), “Imaginary Lover” (1978), “I’m Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight” (1978), “Do It Or Die” (1979) and “Alien” (1981), as well as a remake of “Spooky” (1979).
Buddy Buie began commuting to Nashville in the 1980s. Wynonna scored a major country hit in 1994 with his “Rock Bottom.” Garth Brooks recorded “Mr. Midnight.” Travis Tritt recorded Buie’s cowritten “Homesick” and “Back Up Against the Wall.”
Buie was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1984. The Alabama Music Hall of Fame welcomed him in 1997.
In 2003, the songwriter/producer retired to Eufala, the birthplace of the songs that forged his career. He suffered a heart attack there and died in a hospital in Dothan, AL. He is survived by wife Gloria, son Ben, daughter Belinda Davis, stepson Hunter Sheridan, brother Jerry, sister Gloria Moring and five grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements were handled by Chapman Funeral Home in Eufala. Yesterday’s memorial service was conducted at Eufala’s First Baptist Church, and the visitation afterward was held at the Eufala Country Club.
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About the AuthorRobert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow . He is a respected music critic, author and historian.
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