MRM recently interviewed original Atlanta Rhythm Section (ARS) singer Rodney Justo. Justo spoke about his origins, time away from ARS and continuing the legacy of the Atlanta Rhythm Section.

Atlanta Rhythm Section will play in Alpharetta, GA at Brooke Street Park on June 22 to benefit renovating American Legion Post 201. To purchase tickets please visit HERE.


MRM: Where are you “calling” from?

Justo: I’m responding from Tampa Florida, where I have lived most of my life with the exception of the time I lived in Atlanta, and New York City.

MRM: What all has been going on with ARS since the last time we spoke in late 2019? I was sorry to hear about the passing of Dean Daughtry.

Justo: Thank you for asking about Dean. You may know his health was really bad the last few years, and we had a discussion one day in California about how I couldn’t keep on seeing him coming to work and being so miserable. So I discussed his leaving the band for his own good.

MRM: How much did you contribute to “Can’t Stand It No More” from ARS’s first album?

Justo: With respect to “Can’t Stand It No More,” J.R. (Cobb) and I worked together on the verses, and J.R. and Buddy (Buie) wrote the bridge together.

MRM: I forgot to ask last time, but when you originally left ARS to do session work, did you work with anybody notable?

Justo: With respect to my work in New York City. I’m here of course I didn’t. I worked with BJ Thomas on all of his albums, as well as being his band leader. Most notably, I am proudest about working with Barry Mann who is in the rock ‘n’ roll Hall of Fame as a songwriter along with his late wife Cynthia Weil…I also sang with the legendary guitar player Roy Buchanan for a European tour.

MRM: I heard you performed ad jingles too. What would you say was the biggest ad jingle you performed?

Justo: As far as jingles go, the most famous one I did was done in Atlanta with Billy Joe Royal. I also produced the demo for a second national jingle he did for Coke.

MRM: What all did you do in the wine business?

Justo: When I decided to come home to be with my family, I couldn’t find work. No one would hire me. Of course, it makes sense that no one would hire me, but I didn’t know that then. Luckily, I got a job working for a liquor wholesaler for a whopping $150 a week. But once I got that job, I was determined that no one would ever outwork me. I got fortunate over a 29 year period, I managed to parlay it into a good sales manager position, which enabled me to literally travel the world.

MRM: Is it true Aerosmith opened for ARS back in the day?

Justo: Aerosmith did open for ARS on one of the shows…I believe at Georgia Tech.

MRM: Do y’all still sneak in a snippet of “Miss You” by the Stones into “Imaginary Lover”?

Justo: Over the years people have asked about how we morphed “Miss You” into “Imaginary Lover,” but just as it morphed its way in…it morphed its way out. LOL.

MRM: Could you tell us who all is in the band nowadays?

Justo: The band still consists of Steve Stone, who’s been in the band almost 40 years, Justin Senker on bass who was in the band for years, then left so Paul Goddard could come back with me, David Anderson a Huntsville, Alabama legend who once played with the rock band Brother Cane. Dean‘s replacement is a guy named Lee Shealy who is an outstanding musician and can actually read music. An interesting story…we were once going to do some shows with Christopher Cross and in my phone conversation with him, he asked, ”Do your guys read?”…I replied that a couple of us could recognize words. Lastly, Rodger Stephan, has been our drummer for about eight years. Most notably was him spending some time with Marty Balin.

MRM: How does it feel to play “hometown” shows in the Atlanta area?

Justo: Let me spend a second here, talking about hometown shows, or hometown-ish. Regardless of what you might hear, at least from my perspective, it’s all about the people you meet. And the band over 50+ years has managed to assemble some real fans that have embraced the band through all of its changes. We have people that if we show up…a five or six hour drive away from their home, they come by to see us.

MRM: Speaking of hometown shows, ARS will play in Alpharetta at Brooke Street Park on June 22 to benefit renovating American Legion Post 201. What can fans expect?

Justo: It has really been an honor, after all these years to be able to sing these wonderful songs written by Buddy Buie, and made hits, sung by Ronnie Hammond. We are very serious about maintaining the integrity of the songs, and are very grateful for the people that still come out to see us.