"I love those memories. The ten thousand hours that we spent together being crazy, being wild": As Blackberry Smoke release their eighth album, Charlie Starr looks back on the band's early days

Blackberry Smoke group portrait
(Image credit: 3 Legged Records/Thirty Tigers)

Blackberry Smoke's new album Be Right Here hits the stores today. It's their eighth studio album – the follow-up to 2021's You Hear Georgiaand finds the Atlanta band more than two decades into a career that's seen them progress from dive bars to theatres and arenas, leaving wild youth behind to become respected Southern rock statesmen. And for frontman Charlie Starr, those early years are something he looks back on with affection.

"I love those memories,” he tells Classic Rock, a little wistfully. “And I revisit them quite often. The ten thousand hours that we spent together being crazy, being wild. Not everything is funny. I have some horrible memories of us fighting, and of horrible situations that we put ourselves in, but at least eighty per cent of it is fun to remember."

Starr, who hasn't had a drink in 15 years, also quit smoking five years ago, having started as a 15-year-old. "Quitting cigarettes was really, really hard," he says. "Finally, my doctor was like: ‘Hey, man, you gotta quit smoking, you gotta quit smoking now.’"

Starr also reveals that while the band may have left their wild years behind, they're no less close than when they were young. 

"You could give us ten dressing rooms in a venue, and we always wind up in one," he says. "We enjoy each other’s company. Maybe not every second of every day, but we’re friends. I constantly get asked: ‘How do you keep a band together this long?’ I’m like: ‘I don’t know how, but I know we love each other’. And it’s… it’s real. You know?"

To read the full interview with Charlie Starr, which tells the story of the making of Be Right Here, get the current issue of Classic Rock, issue 324.  

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.