Beginning in 1980, Dan Baird lead singer (formerly guitar in Atlanta band the Nasty Bucks — “I Saw God on Ponce de Leon”), Rick Richards lead guitarist, Keith Christopher bass player (formerly of The Brains) and David Michaelson formed a band called Keith and the Satellites in Atlanta, Georgia. After playing local Southern bars the line-up changed to lead singer and guitarist Dan Baird, singer and lead guitarist Rick Richards, bassist Dave Hewitt and drummer Randy Delay and they recorded a six-track demo at Axis Studios in Atlanta. They then changed the name to The Georgia Satellites. They played every Monday at Hedgen’s, a beer-stained bar in the otherwise tony Atlanta, Georgia neighborhood Buckhead. Christopher left the band in 1982 to perform with Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush and eventually move to London, England for a few years, then Nashville with Coleen Cash (Johnny Cash’s daughter). He is now living in NYC.
Jeff Glixman who had produced, mixed and remastered artists such as Paul Stanley and Kansas, Gary Moore, Yngwie Malmsteen and Black Sabbath was enlisted to produce. Soon after the demo was recorded, the band broke up in the summer of 1984. Drummer Randy DeLay later performed with the Tony Sarno Band and the Hell Hounds around the Atlanta music circuit. Randy died of cancer in 1993.
However, while the band felt they weren’t making any progress on their musical path and had moved on, their English manager, Kevin Jennings, took the demo to a small Yorkshire record label, Making Waves, who liked the material and released the demos as the Keep the Faith EP in 1985. The press response to the EP was positive and prompted the band to regroup in the United States. Baird had been playing with the Woodpeckers in North Carolina, while Richards remained in Atlanta with the Hell Hounds, who included both Mauro Magellan (drums) and Rick Price (bass). With Baird essentially joining the Hell Hounds, the Georgia Satellites were reborn and American record labels started taking notice of the band.
By 1986 Elektra Records was willing to sign the band, who then reunited with Glixman to record their debut full-length album at Cheshire Sound Studios in Atlanta. The album, Georgia Satellites, was their most successful LP, featuring the track “Keep Your Hands to Yourself”. The song reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, topped only by Bon Jovi‘s “Livin’ on a Prayer“. It went into extremely heavy MTV rotation. Other lesser hits included “Battleship Chains” (#86) written by Terry Anderson and “Can’t Stand the Pain”. That same year the first MTV awards came into being. Mary Deacon won for Best Art Director on the music video “Keep Your Hands to Yourself”.
In 1988, the band recorded a cover of The Swinging Blue Jeans’ 1964 hit “Hippy Hippy Shake” for the movie Cocktail. Released as a single, the song reached #45 on the Billboard chart. During that year the band released their second album, Open All Night, which included a cover of the Ringo Starr song “Don’t Pass Me By“, though the album didn’t build on the success of the debut. A single, “Open All Night” backed with “Dunk ‘n’ Dine”, failed to chart. A third studio album, In the Land of Salvation and Sin, was released in 1989, which included re-recordings of “Six Years Gone” and “Crazy” from the 1985 EP. Though the album received very positive reviews, it too failed to do well commercially, and Baird left the band in 1990 to pursue a solo career.
The band’s 1993 compilation Let It Rock: The Best of the Georgia Satellites included a selection of the best tracks from the three studio albums and bonus material that had been released on the Another Chance EP (1989): “Saddle Up”, “That Woman”, and “I’m Waiting for the Man”. Also included was a live version of Chuck Berry’s “Let It Rock”.