Formed in Jacksonville, FL in 1977 .38 Special came to national recognition as the Lynyrd Skynyrd empire was coming to an unfortunate and abrupt end, due to that fateful plane crash in 1977. Donnie Van Zant, younger brother of Skynyrd vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, formed .38 Special. Along with guitarists Jeff Carlisi and Don Barnes, Ronnie formed the group in 1975, but they failed to gain any real attention until they reshaped their Southern fried boogie sound into a more radio friendly AOR format. By the turn of the decade, their songs were more structured and driven by hook-laden choruses.
The group built itself around a similar musical line-up as the Allman Brothers (two lead guitarists, two drummers) sans the gritty organ. Musically, the focus generally stayed on the duel lead work of Carlisi and Barnes.