Formation and early career phase
Oldies music fans may be familiar with Molly Hatchet, who is an American classic rock band who reached the peak of fame and success during the late 70s music era. Their initial and most successful lineup consisted of vocalist Danny Joe Brown, guitarists Dave Hlubek, Steve Holland and Duane Roland, bass guitarist Banner Thomas and drummer Bruce Coupe. Hlubek also wrote and co-produced the band’s material. They named themselves Molly Hatchet after a legendary Southern seducer.
During the band’s formative years, they used to play in many of Florida’s bars and roadhouses. Dave Hlubek also used to be the band’s vocalist before Brown’s arrival.
Aside from Southern rock, Molly Hatchet also played loud hard rock, boogie rock and jam rock. Manager Pat Armstrong, who had handled the band’s rock idols Lynyrd Skynyrd for a time, helped them land a deal with Epic Records.
Early Taste of commercial success
Their self-titled debut album was released in 1978. Although it spawned no singles, the album managed to climb at #64 on the Billboard 200 and rapidly went platinum. The band’s sophomore effort, Flirtin’ with Disaster was released a year later. It was to become their most successful album ever, going to #19 on the Billboard 200 and spawning the title track, which peaked at #42.
Flirtin’ with Disaster sold over two million copies and was certified double (or triple even) platinum. Despite riding the crest of their initial success, lead singer Brown left Molly Hatchet in 1980 because of the chronic diabetes (which he had had since he was in his teens). He was replaced by Jimmy Farrar.
Farrar sang for the band’s third album Beatin’ the Odds, which went to #25 on the Billboard 200 chart. However, fans couldn’t identify the distinction in Farrar’s singing as they did with Brown’s. This was the beginning of the band’s slow commercial downturn.
The band’s fourth LP Take No Prisoners managed to land a decent #36 spot on the album chart. It was to be the Farrar’s last stint with Molly Hatchet before he left sometime in 1981 or 1982.
With Brown returning, the group released their fifth LP No Guts…No Glory in 1983. It was a relative flop on the charts, prompting the band to try to revamp their sound. They released The Deed Is Done in 1984, offering a more commercial-sounding pop and rock. The album produced a minor hit on the Hot 100 “Satisfied Man”, which also went to #13 on the Billboard mainstream rock chart. The following year they released the live album Double Trouble Live, which contained many of the band’s best-known songs and was to be their last charting album. Also in 1985, they released their Greatest Hits compilation, which was their last album to go gold.
Hlubek left the band around 1987 to seek rehabilitation. Lightning Strikes Twicewas Molly Hatchet’s first album without Hlubek, but also would become their last before disbanding in 1990.
However, in the mid-1990s Molly Hatchet got together again to record for a new studio album. But tragedy struck when Brown suffered a stroke and was forced to leave the band. Another singer Phil McCormack was sent in to take Brown’s place while the band was completing the recording of the album, which was to be Devil’s Canyon (1996).
Molly Hatchet continued to recapture their old, identifiable sound by releasing a number of studio albums, as well as live and compilation releases. Brown died from the complications of his diabetes, in 2005. The following year, Roland also passed away. Both were 53 years old at the time of their respective deaths.
As of today, only Hlubek is the only original member still active in the current lineup, which consists of John Galvin, Bobby Ingram (a guitarist of Brown’s own group the Danny Joe Brown Band, as well as replaced Hlubek during the latter’s recovery in 1987), McCormack, Tim Lindsey and Shawn Beamer. They released their latest studio album to date, Regrinding The Axes (2012)
Molly Hatchet may not have regained their old commercial stature, but they continue to tour actively up to this day. In fact, they have a strong fan base in Europe, Australia and some parts of the Pacific.