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J.R. Cobb, founding Classics IV and Atlanta Rhythm Section guitarist and songwriter, dead at age 75

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J.R. Cobb in 1978 (Tom Hill/ WireImage)James “J.R.” Cobb, an original member of both The Classics IV and The Atlanta Rhythm Section, died Saturday, May 4, of a heart attack at the age of 75, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Cobb grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, where he co-founded The Classics IV in 1965. Cobb played guitar with the group and, along with producer Buddy Buie, co-wrote most of the band’s songs, including the top-five hits “Stormy,” “Spooky” and “Traces.”

J.R. eventually moved to the Atlanta area, where he played guitar with a session band known as The Candy Men. In 1972, along with other members of The Candy Men, he co-founded The Atlanta Rhythm Section, who were produced by Buie.

J.R. collaborated on many of the group’s songs with Buie, and the band also recorded a version of “Spooky,” which reached #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979.  Among the other ARS hits he played on: “Imaginary Lover” and “So Into You.” He remained with The Atlanta Rhythm Section until 1986.

Cobb also toured with the country-music supergroup The Highwaymen, which featured Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson.

In 1993, J.R. and The Classics IV, separately, were inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, while The Atlanta Rhythm Section was welcomed into the hall in 1996.

The Atlanta Rhythm Section posted a tribute to Cobb on its Facebook page, noting that his “influence on the [band] is a lasting footprint, that is heard in everything we do, and his loss is immeasurable.”

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