The Coachmen at Grannys Teen Club, Opp, Alabama, 1965

The Barons (Ozark, Alabama)

The Coachmen at Grannys Teen Club, Opp, Alabama, 1965
The Coachmen at Grannys Teen Club, Opp, Alabama, 1965. L-R: Steve Folmar, Paul Williams, Gordon Dodson & Ron Sims
The Coachmen - Grannys Teen Club, Opp, Alabama 1965
The Coachmen at Grannys Teen Club, Opp, Alabama 1965, L-R: Ron Sims, Gordon Dodson, Bill Saunders & Steve Folmar

Rodney Dodson – lead vocals / rhythm guitar
Gordon Dodson – lead guitar / vocals
Bill Saunders – bass guitar / vocals
Coley Sullivan – drums
John Runkle – organ
Billy Scott – lead vocals

The Barons, formerly The Coachmen, from Ozark, Alabama, were formed in 1964 by guitarist Gordon Dodson and bassist Bill Saunders. The Coachmen soon added school friends guitarist Ron Sims, vocalist Paul Williams, and drummer, Steve Folmar.

Gordon Dodson & Billy Scott of The Coachmen, Fort Rucker, Alabama, 1965
Gordon Dodson & Billy Scott of The Coachmen, Fort Rucker, Alabama, 1965

By early 1965, The Coachmen were playing the popular Opp, Alabama Teen Club known as Granny’s and the Ft. Rucker, Alabama Teen Club.  1965 also saw the first change of band members.  James Childers replaced Steve Folmar on drums and Billy Scott replaced Paul Williams on vocals.

1966 saw additional member changes as Coley Sullivan replaced drummer James Childers.  Rodney Dodson, Gordon’s brother, replaced guitarist Ron Sims.  John Runkle was added as the organist.

The Coachmen were renamed The Barons. The Barons played local teen clubs and recreation centers, as well as the Officers and Enlisted Clubs at Fort Rucker, Alabama and several fraternity parties at Troy State University.

The Barons of Ozark, Alabama
The Barons of Ozark, Alabama. Standing L-R: Rodney Dodson, Bill Saunders, Coley Sullivan. Seated L-R: Gordon Dodson, Billy Scott, John Runkle

During the summer of 1966, The Barons recorded their only single 45rpm record at WOOF Radio Station in Dothan, Alabama. “I’m The One Who Cares” and “I Needed You”, were written and sung by The Barons’ lead singer, Rodney Dodson with his brother Gordon singing harmony. Bassist Bill Saunders, composed the keyboard introduction and lead break on “I’m The One Who Cares”.The Barons Red Wave 45 I'm the One Who Cares

The recording was done with one microphone hanging in the center of a sound proof room using a two track reel to reel recorder; no overdubs. The recording “engineer” unfortunately kept the recording level in the red, distorting the overall sound quality. The high volume playbacks sounded good in the studio, so the master tape was sent to the pressing company. Because of limited funds, only 250 records were pressed. The label name, Red Wave, was taken from the local Troy State University Trojans football team, which was known at that time as, The Red Wave. The record sleeve was a stock light brown paper.

John Belcher and Jerry Williams of Ozark distributed the record through John’s dad’s appliance and record store.  The record was also placed on a few local jukeboxes.  Although the record received a fair amount of play from the jukebox distribution, it was seldom heard on radio due to the poor sound quality.  The Barons disband near the end of 1966.  The remaining boxes of records, were unfortunately, used as clay pigeon substitutes during an afternoon of target practice by the two Dodson brothers and their older brother, Claude.

Baron members known to have stayed musically active are:

Rodney Dodson was the founding member of the popular 1980’s southeast Alabama band, The Fairlanes.  A school teacher by trade, Rodney once invited his friend and fellow musician, Sara Evans, to perform at his school.  Rodney put together a small group of musicians, including himself, brother Gordon, and sister Celia to accompany Sara.  Sara went on to become the 2005 Academy of Country Music’s Female Vocalist of the Year.Barons Red Wave 45 I Needed You

Gordon Dodson played guitar with the late 1970’s southeast Alabama band, Kingfish, which included notable saxophonist, Jay Scott.  (Jay played the saxophone on Lynard Skynard’s recording of “What’s Your Name”, as well as Alicia Bridges, “I Like The Night Life”.)  Gordon is listed in the Alabama Steel Guitar Hall of Fame as the 2010 recipient of the Bill Simmons Horizon Award.  Gordon taught guitar in the southeast Alabama Junior College system for many years.

Coley Sullivan played drums with the early 1960’s instrumental combo, The Ecstatics, one of Ozark, Alabama’s first rock and roll bands. The Ecstatics, also included lead guitar player, Ron Hilburn, who eventually became the lead guitarist for the 1960’s band, The Chains, referred to as, The Beatles of El Paso.  The Chains are known for their version of “I Ain’t Gonna Eat My Heart Out Any More”.  Coley also played briefly in the 1960’s popular southeast Alabama bands, The Webs, The Puppets, The K- Otics and The Disciples of Blue from Panama City, Florida.

The Ecstatics, Ozark, Alabama
The Ecstatics, Ozark, Alabama, L-R: Pete Bonnasso (rhythm guitar), Ron Hilburn (lead guitar), Coley Sullivan (drums) and Frank Kingsley (bass)

Johnny Christian, friend and fellow musician, though not a member of the Barons, played the woodblocks on “I’m The One Who Cares”.  Johnny retired as Band Director from Dothan, Alabama’s, Northview High School. His son, Wynn Christian, guitarist and vocalist of the popular blues band, Spoonful James, composed “Seven Mile Breakdown”, recorded by the 2006 American Idol Winner, Taylor Hicks.

Gordon Dodson
2014

The Barons, Doug Tew Recreation Center, Dothan, Alabama
The Barons, Doug Tew Recreation Center, Dothan, AL. From left: Rodney Dodson, Billy Scott, Gordon Dodson, Coley Sullivan, Bill Saunders & John Runkle
James Childers, drummer for the Coachmen of Ozark, AL
James Childers, drummer for the Coachmen of Ozark, AL
The Coachmen, Fort Rucker, Alabama, 1965
The Coachmen, Fort Rucker, Alabama, 1965, L-R: Ron Sims, Billy Scott, Gordon Dodson & Bill Saunders

7 thoughts on “The Barons (Ozark, Alabama)”

  1. OMG! An awesome trip down memory lane! Thanks so much to all who gathered the background and photos for this site. I recall when Coley Sullivan joined the group as drummer, his nickname of “Charcoal” was the inspiration for the group’s name to Charcoal and the Brickettes in 1966-67 as seen on the bass drum head. The band was still playing together into late 1968 when military service and the Vietnam War kinda interrupted things for some of us. I still have my one and only copy of the record! Sounds awful.

  2. Proud to have known these guys as friends and classmates from Ozark and Carroll High who created many wonderful memories for those of us from “LA”.

  3. Wow, how much fun! Thanks to Gordon Dodson for sharing this site with me. My brother, Ron Sims, was in the band and I have great memories of these guys entertaining us all. Thanks Gordon! Best to you all. Jeff Sims

  4. I remember well the hot summer days practicing at Gordon’s and Bill’s when we were just getting started. We played Granny’s Teen Club in Opp most of the summer of 1965. We seemed to get better with each performance. Great memories and fun times-Paul Williams

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