Donnie Van Zant (vocals) formed the Jacksonville, Florida-based .38 Special in 1975 with Jeff Carlisi (guitar), Don Barnes (guitar, vocals), Ken Lyons (bass), Jack Grondin (drums) and Steve Brookins (drums). Two years later, the band signed with A&M Records and released their eponymous debut. Neither .38 Special or its followup, Special Delivery, received much attention, but the group began to build up a following through their constant touring. Bassist Lyons left before the recording of 1979's Rockin' into the Night, the album that demonstrated a more melodic, driving sound; he was replaced by Larry Junstrom. Rockin' into the Night became a moderate hit, but 1981's Wild-Eyed Southern Boys was a genuine hit, going platinum and generating the Top 40 "Hold on Loosely." Special Forces, released in 1982, was even more popular, spawning the Top 10 single "Caught Up In You" and "If I'd Been the One." Tour De Force (1983) and Strength in Numbers (1986) were both successes, and the band continued to be a popular touring outfit. Barnes and Brookins left in 1987; Barnes was replaced by Danny Chauncey.
While Strength in Numbers had been popular, it didn't stay on the charts as long as its predecessors. Flashback, the 1987 greatest hits album, was moderately successful, but the band took precautions to retain their audience by recording the polished Rock & Roll Strategy. Released in 1989, the album slowly became a hit on the strength of "Second Chance," an adult-contemporary-oriented ballad that reached the Top 10.
Rock & Roll Strategy became the band's final big hit. Barnes returned to the band in 1991 and the group replaced drummer Carl with Scott Hoffman and added keyboardist Bobby Capps. Even with the extensive retooling and the support of a new label, Charisma, 1991's Bone Against Steel failed to gain much attention. .38 Special didn't release another album for six years. In the summer of 1997, they released a comeback effort titled Resolution on Razor & Tie Records. Live at Sturgis followed on CMC in 1999. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide