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Southern Rock And Jacksonville Will Be Focus Of A Planned PBS Miniseries

Bill Bortzfield
Jacksonville's Lynyrd Skynyrd performed a farewell concert in September at TIAA Bank Field in front of an estimated 40,000 fans.

Jacksonville is considered by many as the birthplace of southern rock, a distinction that will be celebrated in a miniseries on PBS.

On Thursday, First Coast Films LLC and Jacksonville-based Pine Ridge Film and Television announced securing a deal to produce and distribute a miniseries with the working title The Soul of Southern Rock.

Past PBS shows that Pine Ridge produced and now air on Amazon Prime include Getting Away Together and At the Chef’s Table

The idea for the miniseries originated with a historical study by Michael Ray FitzGerald titled Jacksonville and the Roots of Southern Rock, which is scheduled to be published in the fall by University Press of Florida, according to FitzGerald.

There will be ample material for the miniseries.

Jacksonville is uniquely identified with southern rock. Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers Band are the most famous to form here and helped pave the way for other Jacksonville rockers who made it big, such as 38 Special, Molly Hatchet and JJ Grey & Mofro.

The documentary's announcement comes as Lynyrd Skynyrd is on its farewell tour. The Jacksonville band played what was expected to be its final gig in Jacksonville in September at TIAA Bank Field. An estimated 40,000 fans attended, according to WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union.

Pine Ridge is run by the husband-and-wife team of Jerry and Cynthia Smith. The distribution rights for the miniseries will also include the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., British Broadcast Corp., and Australian Broadcasting Corp., according to FitzGerald.

FitzGerald expects production to begin within 60 days. He anticipates it will likely air in the spring of 2020.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

Bill joined WJCT News in September of 2017 from The Florida Times-Union, where he served in a variety of multimedia journalism positions.