ATLANTA (AP) — Perry “Buddy” Buie, a songwriter and producer who helped form the Atlanta Rhythm Section and then fuel its success with the lyrics he wrote for the band, has died. He was 74.
Buie died Saturday, said Chip Chapman, owner of Chapman Funeral Home in Eufaula, Alabama, which is handling arrangements. A memorial service is planned for 1 p.m. CDT Wednesday at First Baptist Church in Eufaula, the funeral home said.
Singer Rodney Justo, one of the band’s original members, remembers how Buie brought him and other musicians together to form the Atlanta Rhythm Section in the early 1970s.
“He calls me one day, and he says ‘I have an idea Rodney, and I’d like you to be a part of it,'” Justo recalled on Sunday. “He said ‘I want to get all the top musicians in the South, put them together and build a super group.”
“Atlanta Rhythm Section was Buddy’s dream,” Justo added. “He wanted a band that he could produce, manage, write songs for and to be a vehicle for his songs.”
The band had wide influence, and “they helped define the Southern Rock genre with other bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd,” according to Buie’s biography in the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
Though Buie is known for his work with the Atlanta Rhythm Section, he has also written or co-written numerous hits performed by artists such as Carlos Santana (the song “Stormy”); Gloria Estefan (“Traces”); and Garth Brooks (“Mr. Midnight”), according to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
Buie, a native of Dothan, Alabama, was once Roy Orbison’s road manager, Justo said.
Over the years, Buie created many of his songs in a small fishing trailer on a creek in the Eufaula area, according to the biography, which credits him with writing or co-writing hundreds of songs. Buie wrote many of them with his old friend James “J.R.” Cobb, 71, who was also a member of the Atlanta Rhythm Section. The two would retreat to the fishing trailer to get away from outside distractions.
“We would stay up late, sometimes write all night,” Cobb said in a telephone interview Sunday. “There wasn’t a phone to ring and no one to bother us.”
The pair began writing songs together in the mid-1960s, and were still getting together to create music as recently as about six months ago, Cobb said. He estimates that they wrote at least 100 songs and possibly more than that.
Eddie Owen, a longtime music promoter in the Atlanta area, said “I don’t think there are many ‘native’ Atlantans over 40 that weren’t influenced by his songs and work.”
Though he was involved in many aspects of the music business, “Buddy wanted to be a songwriter — that’s his thing,” said Justo, 70, who first met him more than 50 years ago.
He was also an intensely loyal person who built and nurtured lasting relationships in the music industry, Justo said.
“Buddy was a very loyal kind of guy and loved loyalty,” Justo added. “He used to tell me that people forget their beginnings.”
Whether it was in Georgia or Alabama, or in New York City, “you could mention Buddy’s name and people responded so well because they loved him,” Justo recalled. “He was a character. He was one of a kind.”
He also loved to travel, he loved to eat and he loved music, Justo said.
“A full life is a gift, a long life is a bonus… and we should all live the full life that Buddy lived,” he said.
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