Dean Daughtry

2019 Honoree

Dean Daughtry of The Atlanta Rhythm Section during The Atlanta Rhythm Section in Concert at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta – July 30, 1976 at Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. (Photo by Tom Hill/WireImage)

Dean Daughtry was born in 1946 in Samson, Alabama. Daughtry, a keyboardist, would go on to play in many successful bands like the Classics IV, the Candymen, and the Atlanta Rhythm Section (ARS). Daughtry was a founding member of ARS, and can be found featured with his Wurlitzer electric keyboard on the music mural in downtown Dothan, Alabama – pictured below. With ARS Producer Buddy Buie and ARS drummer, Robert Nix, he co-wrote the massive hit songs, “So into You” and “Imaginary Lover”. “So Into You” peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 7 in 1977 and “Imaginary Lover” also hit number 7 in 1978. Daughtry is a sole constant member of ARS as he still tours with them in 2020.

Daughtry studied at the historic Huntington College in Montgomery, Alabama with a music scholarship. He acknowledged Ray Charles’ keyboarding and songwriting style as a great impact on his own work as a musician in a 2019 interview with Also, he mentioned Hank Williams, Sr. as another important figure that influenced his work.

Dean picture on far right with ARS in Doraville, Georgia

Daughtry went on to play with the Dothan-based Candymen band who backed Roy Orbison on the road in the late 1960s. Later in the 1970s, Daughtry along with former Candymen members (Rodney Justo, Robert Nix) and former Classics IV member J.R. Cobb were hired as the session band at Studio One in Doraville, Georgia. The Studio One session band (along with a few others) would become the band we now know as the Atlanta Rhythm Section in 1972. Daughtry and ARS would find commercial success in the late 1970s, touring all over the world. Daughtry and ARS performed for crowds as large as 60,000 people with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Jefferson Starship, Genesis, Devo, Aerosmith, and many notable others. They also played a joint bill with the Rolling Stones in Buffalo, New York.

Biographer Willie Moseley writes in his 256-paged book, “The Atlanta Rhythm Section: The Authorized Biography” that Daughtry, “had the ability to insert a lot of passion into his playing, which added to the meaningfulness of their songs. In my opinion, this was primarily due to his gospel upbringing and the best example of that influence is ‘Jesus-Hearted People’ from (1974 album) ‘Third Annual Pipe Dream.’ It’s a sweet, simple tune and Dean’s piano flourishes are so on-the-mark they’re devastating.”

Dean Daughtry found home in Hunstville, Alabama where he currently resides with his wife Donna.