The Story Of The Amazing Rhythm Aces

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The Amazing Rhythm Aces‘ journey began as Fatback in Tennessee in the late 1960s. Their original lineup consisted of vocalist and guitarist Russell Smith, bassist Jeff ‘Stick’ Davis, drummer Butch McDade, and lead guitarist Mike Brooks and later Dan Kennedy. The band decided to relocate to Memphis under the guidance of Barry Burton, who later joined the band as the new guitarist. With the participation of pianist James Hooker, the band’s lineup was completed, and they called themselves ‘The Amazing Rhythm Aces.’

Like most bands, their debut album was a chance to discover their sound. The group defined their music as a country rock which was a mix of pop, folk, country, rock, and soul. Their debut album ‘Stacked Deck’ was released in 1975. This album produced two of their most successful songs, ‘Third Rate Romance’ and ‘Amazing Grace (Would Be His Favorite Song).’ They even received a Grammy award for the song ‘The End Is Not in Sight (The Cowboy Tune).’

What made them known among many other bands was their extensive scope in genres, as well as Russell Smith’s leading voice and lyrics. However, after a long run of seven studio albums, the band decided to disband in 1981 before reuniting in the 1990s.

The Amazing Rhythm Aces Reunite After 15 Years

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After disbanding in 1981, the band members focused on solo work for many years. For instance, Russell Smith worked on his solo songs alongside writing songs for other artists in the industry. Many of the members joined other bands, such as the Blue Moon Orchestra and Sawyer Brown.

The group reunited in 1994 after a 15-year hiatus. The reunited band consisted of Smith, Davis, McDade, Earheart, Hooker, and their new guitarist Danny Parks. They released ‘Ride Again,’ which was their attempt to breathe new life into their biggest hits.

‘Out of the Blue’ was their 1998 resurrection album that McDade had to step back from after being diagnosed with cancer. He died of bladder cancer that year. After the release of their next studio album, ‘Nothin’ but the Blues,’ Davis also left the band. Following his departure, the band’s lineup remained with original members Smith, Earheart, and Kelvin Holly. The band managed to release 18 albums in 30 years.

Two other members tragically passed away due to their health diagnoses. Barry Burton passed away from rare blood cancer in 2008. Vocalist and frontman Russell Smith passed away in 2019 after being diagnosed with cancer.

The band’s latest release was their ‘Moments Live in Germany 2000,’ which was a live recording from the club ‘Moments’ in Bremen, Germany. It was recorded on March 20, 2000, by the German radio station Radio Bremen. This was the last release they gave to their fans before they ended the band for good.