41 Years Ago
updated 06 March, 2023
On October 20, 1977 a plane carrying 26 people including the members of the band Lynyrd Skynyrd crashed in Mississippi. Among the dead were 3 band members: Guitar player Steve Gaines, his sister and backup singer/ Honkette Cassie Gaines, and the bands leader and lead singer Ronnie Van Zant. “Skynyrd”, IMHO, is the greatest Southern Rock band and one of the greatest bands ever. They will always be one of my all time favorite bands and perhaps speak to me more than any other.
I never got to see the original band because I was far too young when they were around. I did see The Rossington Collins Band in the 80’s. That group had 4 former Lynyrd Skynyrd members.
Many of the surviving members have toured on and off since 1987 including a “farewell tour” this year. I saw them a few years back. This group was supposed to be a tribute band despite them using original Lynyrd Skynyrd name. IMHO, Lynyrd Skynyrd ceased to exist the night of the plane crash. I don’t mean to take away from the talent or contributions of the other band members. The band truly was a sum of its parts. But, I believe Ronnie Van Zant was the heart and soul of the band. He is listed as one of the writers in all but a few of the bands original songs.
The Van Zant Brothers
Ronnie Van Zant was the oldest of 3 talented brothers. Donnie Van Zant was a member of the band .38 Special, another one of my favs. Johnny Van Zant was the youngest brother. Though today he is is the lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd, I first heard him as a solo artist. The first song I remember hearing from him was Still Hold On from his The Last of the Wild Ones album. It is a stunningly beautiful song.
The pathetically weak Wikipedia article on Southern Rock says. “Southern rock is a subgenre of rock music and a genre of Americana.” I’ve yet to read a remotely accurate description as to what Southern Rock is. For the most part, I know it when I hear it.
Southern Rock spans decades, and generations, and cultures. One could argue that the first wave of Rock And Roll is indeed Southern Rock. The majority of greats from that era hailed from the south. Then we get to Allman Brothers era and then Lynyrd Skynyrd. Later Southern Rock goes on a 3 lead guitar power era with the likes of Blackfoot, The Outlaws, and Molly Hatchet along side the Texas blues of ZZ Top. Today bands like Drive-By Truckers and Lucero continue a great Southern Rock legacy.
Southern Rock isn’t just confined to the South. One of the most popular Southern Rock bands, Creedence Clearwater Revival is from California.
Southern Rock isn’t just from America. Dire Straits is from England and they have a definite Southern Rock sound. Ever heard the song Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress by The Hollies? One of the all time greatest Southern Rock songs yes? The Hollies came out of England too.
When it comes to actually labeling a band Southern Rock I have chosen my own made up genre called Southern Edge to tag my files. Tom Petty, REM, The Eagles, and George Thorogood are among the bands I put in there along with all the aforementioned artists
I’m not a writer. I cannot do the band, its members, or their legacy any justice. Here are some links that when pieced together start to offer some insight into this legendary band:
Lynyrd Skynyrd interviews, articles and reviews from Rock’s Backpages – A+ fantastic source
Lynyrd Skynyrd at Wikipedia
More Than a Simple Man: The Legacy of Ronnie Van Zant
Lynyrd Skynyrd: If I Leave Here Tomorrow (2018) | SHOWTIME
Lynyrd Skynyrd: If I Leave Here Tomorrow | Netflix
Related: Lynyrd Skynyrd: Court Rules That ‘Plane Crash’ Film Can Be Released
The movie is called Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash.
Most of you know them from their fantastic but overplayed Free Bird and Sweet Home Alabama. Their music and legacy is so much more than that. To truly experience them you need to go much deeper. As I have stated, to me Skynyrd ceased to exist on October 20, 1977 so my preferences start there.
Lynyrd Skynyrd discography at Wikipedia
The original band only had 5 albums:
(Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd)
Gimme Back My Bullets
There are various compilation albums and box sets around. Many of these have hidden gems, one-of-a kinds, rarities.
Lynyrd Skynyrd: Gold & Platinum (If you only own one this should be it.)
Lynyrd Skynyrd Box Set, 3 CD
Skynyrd’s Innyrds: Greatest Hits
Skynyrd Collectybles – This is rare(ish) and is going for $64 at Amazon. You can digital download the songs from Amazon for $19.99. Prices for the CD on Discogs range from $18 to $47.
In response to the question, “How to compile a complete Lynyrd Skynyrd rarities set?” one guy put a good list together here:
Lynyrd Skynyrd Legend
Lynyrd Skynyrd Gold & Platinum
Lynyrd Skynyrd Skynyrd’s Innyrds
Lynyrd Skynyrd One More From the Road [Live]
Lynyrd Skynyrd Second Helping
Lynyrd Skynyrd Pronounced ‘Leh-‘nerd ‘Skin-‘nerd (Expanded Edition)
Lynyrd Skynyrd Nuthin’ Fancy
Lynyrd Skynyrd Collectybles
Lynyrd Skynyrd Box Set, 3 CD
Skynyrd’s First and… Last
Here is my favorite and original recording of Free Bird:
This is a great, albeit fictional story: Roadies: Season 1, Episode 9 – “The All Night Bus Ride”
Currently on Hulu: https://www.hulu.com/series/roadies-b933ebfe-dc5a-4145-81f3-f25f233dccfd
I agree with you Eric. What’s funny or sad I never realized that the band was a tribute band and knew nothing of Ronnies death until a decade ago. That’s sad right. I do however love his music.
Hello Eric, I really like your post, I also a big fan of them. One song that I might suggest you take a listen to is mississippi kid or maybe you already had heard it, Its really good and I like the blue grass sound to it. But again this is just a suggestion for you. It was made in 73 before the crash. Anywho if I could try to describe Southern Rock I always went with this. Southern Rock is the hard liquor of the music genera bar, Its stands out to you automactilly and what you see is what you get. It does not matter where you are from, all it cares about that you like it for what it is. Best to drink it straight out of the bottle or in a glass, or as a shot. Can be used in a mix drink, but to get its true sound and flavor plain is the way to go. 🙂 I understand and can relate to you when a bandmenber dies that the band itself goes with it. I had the chance and I took it to see a country music act that I really like, They put on a great show and it rocked. Then later on the one band mate took a hellicoptor ride and it crashed before it reach the area where the concert was playing at. Sadly he die along with the pilot of it too. The band did finished its last tour , but it feel weird because they where knowed as a douel and with onely one playing it was not right. Sorry if my post is to long, its always nice to see another Skynyrd fan. Have a great day 🙂
Eric (a.k.a. TweakHound) says
Did you try turning it off and back on again?