back into orbit

rick roberts

rick richards of the georgia satellites.

When the Georgia Satellites hit big, there didn’t seem to be a venue the band wouldn’t play or an act it wouldn’t share a bill with.

In Lexington alone, the barnstorming Atlanta guitar-rock quartet best known for the huge 1986 hit Keep Your Hands to Yourself, played downtown at the long defunct Wrocklage on Short St., the University of Kentucky Student Center Ballroom and Rupp Arena.

“There was another place too,” remembered co-founding Satellites guitarist Rick Richards. “Wasn’t there a club called Breeding’s?”

Yep. Make that another in a string of local haunts the Satellites played all within roughly a year’s time (l986-87). Not only that, but most of those concerts had the band in different company.

The Wrocklage show came when the Satellites had only a 1985 EP disc, Keep the Faith, to promote. The Breeding’s date came after a self-titled debut album became a No. 5 hit. But between those shows were dates that proved how far reaching the band’s appeal had become. The Rupp concert, for instance, placed the Satellites on a bill with country rock renegade Hank Williams, Jr.

“It’s weird,” Richards recalled. “Someone just sent me this ticket stub from a show we did in Vancouver which was with (David) Bowie and Duran Duran. I remember we flew from a Hank Jr. concert directly to the Bowie concert.  The common thread was having the Satellites there.

“We were just a rock ‘n’roll band, basically. But all of those acts, really, got their start as a rock ‘n’ roll band regardless of what they eventually became. Still, it was really weird going from Hank  Jr. to Bowie.”

The UK show teamed the Satellites with fellow post-punk roots rockers Jason and the Scorchers. To this day, it remains one of the loudest rock shows the university has presented.

“I remember those shows,” Richards said. “That was great fun and a great tour. We were all idiots – just these Southern idiots out there having fun. Like you said, there was no shortage on the volume at those shows. We used the volume to make up for some of our musicianship.”

Of course, that was the late ‘80s. By the 1990 vocalist and songwriter Dan Baird departed, as did drummer Mauro Magellan, leaving Richards and bassist Rick Price to soldier on. But the musical course the Satellites set in the ‘80s still guides the band today despite an overall lack of new recordings. 1997’s Shaken Not Stirred remains the band’s only post-Baird recording.

New music is the works, said Richards, who performs with the current Satellites tonight for the first evening of the Christ the King Oktoberfest (fellow ‘80s rockers The Romantics headline on Saturday).

“When we first started, we were just an off the cuff rock ‘n’ roll band. So when Dan left, we just decided to pretty much return to that format – just playing good stuff that we enjoy playing and stuff that we were fans of when we first started the band. So it kind of regressed into a really cool thing. It regressed into what it initially started out being.”

Georgia Satellites perform at 9:20 tonight as part of the Christ the King Oktoberfest, 299 Colony Blvd. Admission is free. Call (859) 268-2861 or go to

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