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"In the beginning I was scared, but over the years I've come to peace with it, and I think Ronnie's proud of what we're doing today."  Johnny Van Zant

The term "Southern Pride" takes on a whole new meaning when a town welcomes the definitive southern rock of Lynyrd Skynyrd.   Confederate flags are everywhere and the capacity crowds are in "party til you puke" mode, hours before the doors of the venues open.  Everywhere the air is infused with this southern pride, no matter where you are, and the desire to R-O-C-K!  Such is the legacy of a band most qualified to be called "All-American."  Don't call them a country band!  This is fist pumping, foot stomping, passionate rock and roll, then, now and into the future. 

The story of Lynyrd Skynyrd's rise, tragic fall and rebirth is known by most and is a true testament to the core members, but their infusion of new blood several years ago and their decision to stay true to their southern blues melodies and blue-collar lyrics has kept them alive and kicking with a constantly renewing fan base.  Many have called them the Grateful Dead of the south because of the cultish following they have had for over 20 years, in some cases consisting of more than one generation in a family.  Their legacy lives on . . .

In The Beginning . . . 

The core of the band, Ronnie Van Zant (Vocals), Allen Collins (Guitar) and Gary Rossington (Guitar) formed their first union in the late 60s, in a project called "My Backyard."  After just a short time, Leon Wilkeson showed up and assumed bass duties and Billy Powell sat in on keys.  The band's famous, perplexing name was actually a back-handed salute to a tormenting gym teacher named Leonard Skinner, who wasn't always kind to long-hair types.  The name was morphed into Lynyrd Skynyrd, they added drummer Bob Burns and set off to rock the south!

Although they had played together for several years, the band received its first record deal in 1972, and set about making their debut album "Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd" with their third guitarist, Ed King.  This three guitar crunch proved to be their signature sound and was never showcased any better than in the unforgettable song "Free Bird."  The song is still played widely on radio, after a run that has lasted more than 25 years and is certain to be the finale at any Skynyrd concert you attend.   Between this hit and their opening band slot on the 1973 Who/Quadrophenia tour, the dye for their destiny was cast.  Another album, "Second Helping," went multi-platinum in 1974, and another hit song (Sweet Home Alabama) saw a personnel change with Bob Burns being replaced by Artimus Pyle on the drums and Ed King bowing out by the end of that year.  Several more albums were to come before "Street Survivor," and the tragedy that changed the course of their lives but couldn't dampen their love for their music.

Lynyrd Skynyrd released  their sixth album, "Street Survivors," on October 17, 1977.  Three days later, the band was traveling between shows in Greenville, South Carolina and Baton Rouge, Louisiana when their chartered plane crashed near Gillsburg, Mississippi.  The cause of the crash was speculated to have been several things, including mechanical failure and running out of fuel.  No matter what the cause, three people died (vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gains and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines) and the rest of the band was injured.

The band broke up for ten years while wounds healed and members tried other things.  In 1980 Rossington and Collins formed a new band, which featured four of the surviving members.  Two years later, Pyle formed The Artimus Pyle Band.  Collins suffered a car crash in 1986, leaving him paralyzed and he died four years later of respiratory failure.  It wasn't until 1987 that Rossington, Powell, King and Wilkeson reunited Lynyrd Skynyrd and added Ronnie Van Zant's brother Johnny as their new vocalist and Randall Hall on guitar.  The similarities in the voices of Ronnie and Johnny were almost a shock to die hard Skynyrd fans.   "Originally, we were just going to do one show," Johnny explains, "but then that became a week's worth of dates, then a full-fledged tour and then, thanks to the overwhelming support of old and new fans, the next thing I know, I'm in the band full time." It's been an emotional experience for the talented singer whose resemblance both vocally and visually to his older brother is obvious. "In the beginning I was scared," Johnny admits, "but over the years I've come to peace with it, and I think Ronnie's proud of what we're doing today." 
 

What Are They Up To Now?

The band's last full length studio album, "Edge of Forever," is harder hitting than your average Skynyrd, especially in songs like "Preacher Man."  The sound is strong guitar rock that is masterfully decorated with the passion and conviction of lyrics that each one of us can see ourselves in, like looking in a mirror.    It is perhaps their strongest offering in their post tragedy era and leaves listeners with the unwavering conviction that the south shall always rise again!
 

Genre:  Southern Rock

Current Line-up:

Johnny Van Zant - Vocals
Gary Rossington, Rickey Medlocke, Hughie Thomasson - Guitar 
Leon Wilkeson - Bass
Michael Cartellone - Drums
Billy Powell - Keyboards
 
 

Career Album 
Discography:

Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd (MCA) 1973
Smokes (Sounds of the) 1973
Second Helping (MCA) 1974
Nuthin' Fancy (MCA) 1975
Gimme Back My Bullets (MCA) 1976
One More From The Road (MCA) 1976
Street Survivors (MCA) 1977
Skynyrd's First And . . . Last (MCA) 1978
Southern By The Grace of God:  Lynyrd Skynyrd Live (MCA) 1988
Lynyrd Skynyrd 1991 (Atlantic) 1991
The Last Rebel (Atlantic) 1993
Endangered Species (Capricorn) 1994
Freebird:  The Movie (MCA) 1996
Southern Nights (SPV) 1996
Sweet Home Alabama (Ariola Express) 1997
Twenty (CMC) 1997
What's Your Name (MCA Special) 1997
Lyve/Live (CMC) 1998
Edge of Forever (CMC) 1999
Christmas Time Again: King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents in Concert - Live (King Biscuit) 2000
 
 

Career Turning Point:

Lynyrd Skynyrd released  their sixth album, Street Survivors, on October 17, 1977.  Three days after, the band was traveling between shows in Greenville, South Carolina and Baton Rouge, Louisiana when their chartered plane crashed near Gillsburg, Mississippi.  The cause of the crash was speculated to have been caused by several things, including mechanical failure and running out of fuel.  No matter what the cause, three people died (vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gains and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines) and the rest of the band was injured.

The cover of the Street Survivor album depicted the band surrounded in flames, which was so upsetting to the surviving band members, it was quickly changed by the record company.  Perhaps because of this tragedy, the album turned out to be one of the band's best sellers.
 

Visit the official Lynyrd Skynyrd Web site

Purchase Lynyrd Skynyrd music online at the iconoSTORE!

 

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