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Jacksonville Pop Culture

The most recognizable names to come out of the Jacksonville music scene were the rockers of Lynyrd Skynyrd (Freebird, Sweet Home Alabama). The band was named for the phys ed teacher at Lee High School who was intolerant of the long-haired teens (Ronnie Van Zant, Gary Rossington, Allen Collins) who founded it. Many other musical talents got their start here. Greg and Duane Allman formed the Allman Brothers while living in Jacksonville in 1969 and honed their act in nearby Daytona before heading to Macon and global success. Other rock bands with strong Jacksonville connections include .38 Special (formed by Skynyrd singer Ronnie Van Zant’s brother Donnie), Molly Hatchet, Limp Bizkit and Yellowcard. A strong punk scene led by and Evergreen Terrace flourished in the 1990s. The city’s musical streak goes back much further than the 60s, however, as James Weldon Johnson (composer of Lift Ev’ry Voice, often called the Negro National Anthem) and blues icon “Blind” Arthur Blake were both born here; so were Pat Boone and R&B singer Gary U.S. Bonds. There’s plenty of non-fiction that capsules Jacksonville’s history, but little in the way of popular literature that describes life in the city. For a few years in the early 20th century, Jacksonville had dozens of movie studios as New York and New Jersey—where the major studios were then headquartered—was too overcast to provide enough sunlight for filming during the winter. Someone eventually discovered Southern California and the Jacksonville studios closed before World War II. Later movies filmed in Jacksonville include parts of Creature from the Black Lagoon and Cool Hand Luke, while recent releases have been confined to indie titles and shorts such as Cocaine Angel (2006) and Sketchy (2009).