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Subject: Robert Nix, 67: Original Atlanta Rhythm Section drummer

Written By: Claybricks on 05/24/12 at 6:37 pm
Robert L. Nix was a founding member of the Atlanta Rhythm Section. He left Atlanta in the '80s to branch out on his own.

Robert Nix, 67: Original Atlanta Rhythm Section drummer

By Michelle E. Shaw

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Although he left Atlanta in the 1980s, the beat went on for Robert Nix, the first drummer of the Atlanta Rhythm Section, a Southern rock band that had a number of hit records in the 1970s.

Over the past three decades, Mr. Nix continued to make music and enjoy life, friends and family said.

“We were working on several things,” said Alison Heafner Nix, his wife. “He never stopped working. The music never stopped.”

In the 1970s Mr. Nix was more than the drummer of ARS, said friend Buddy Buie of Eufaula, Ala. He co-wrote several ARS songs with Mr. Buie, and proved to be a great collaborator.

“We wrote a lot of hits, ‘So Into You’ and ‘Imaginary Lover’ just to name two,” said Mr. Buie who was the band’s producer and principal songwriter.

In a December 2008 interview with Bands of Dixie magazine, Mr. Nix said he left ARS after the band's 1979 album, “Underdog,” because of artistic differences with other band members.

“In 1980 he went his own way, but he and I were talking all of the time,” Mr. Buie said.

When illness struck Mr. Nix almost two years ago, the artistic differences from the late '70s were cast aside, as former ARS members reached out to wish him well, Mrs. Nix said.

Rodney Justo, another original ARS member, kept tabs on his former bandmate, even posting on the group’s Facebook page, updating fans on Mr. Nix’s progress. “Please continue to pray for good outcome to all of this,” reads a post on the ARS page from late last month.

Mr. Buie said he knew Mr. Nix had been ill during the past year, but he had no idea he would soon be mourning his friend.

“We all expected he’d pull through, you know,” the producer said. “This is just a huge loss to us.”

Robert L. Nix of Batesville, Miss., died Sunday at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis of complications from intestinal failure. He was 67. A funeral service was held Thursday at Batesville Presbyterian Church, with burial at Magnolia Cemetery. Wells Funeral Home, Batesville, was in charge of arrangements.

Mr. Nix's music career started in the 1960s in his hometown of Jacksonville. Before he came to Atlanta, he played in Roy Orbison's band, the Candymen, for “five or six years, off and on,” he said in an interview.

It was after he left the Candymen that Mr. Nix co-wrote his first hit, “Cherry Hill Park,” with fellow musician Bill Gilmore, Mr. Buie said.

“That was a big record in ’69,” Mr. Buie said. “And in ’70, the Atlanta Rhythm Section was formed.”

Mr. Nix provided the beat for ARS for a decade, and in that time he also had the chance to play with other up-and-coming acts, including Lynyrd Skynyrd. Mr. Nix played drums on “Tuesday’s Gone,” which was recorded for that group's 1973 debut album, “Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd.”

After he left ARS, Mr. Nix could be seen in Atlanta jamming with a band every now and then, but he eventually moved to Memphis. It was there he met and started making music with his future wife.

The two married in 2008, Mr. Nix said in the interview from that year, and Mrs. Nix said they were together for more than 25 years.

Music was at the core of Mr. Nix’s life, Mr. Buie said. But at the end of the day, he was more than a musician. He also was beloved as a friend.

"If anybody hates to be dead, it is Robert,” Mr. Buie said. “Robert loved making music and he loved living life. He really did.”

In addition to his wife, Mr. Nix is survived by two daughters from a previous marriage, Scarlett Nix Phillips of Palatka, Fla., and Wendi Nix Garecki of Indianapolis, Ind.; a stepson, Chad Heafner of Batesville; a sister, Faye Nix Duncan of Jacksonville; two brothers, Robin Greg "Pee Wee" Nix of Jacksonville and Neely Michael "Runt" Nix of Jacksonville; and two grandchildren.


Subject: Re: Robert Nix, 67: Original Atlanta Rhythm Section drummer

Written By: whistledog on 05/24/12 at 6:42 pm

I was "so into" his music.  ARS were great.  R.I.P, to a music legend :(

Subject: Re: Robert Nix, 67: Original Atlanta Rhythm Section drummer

Written By: LyricBoy on 05/24/12 at 6:58 pm

"Imaginary Lover" rocked.  So smooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooth.

Subject: Re: Robert Nix, 67: Original Atlanta Rhythm Section drummer

Written By: LyricBoy on 05/27/12 at 6:02 pm

I bet he and ARS singer Ronnie Hammond are up in heaven doing a Champagne Jam.  8)

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