Rock Legends

Lynyrd Skynrd

Around the mid-20th century or 1950 rock that came from artists of the south was defined by where they were from more often than by their particular interest or style. Many of rock music’s forerunners like Little Richard, Buddy Holly or Elvis were more defined by their roots in the south than they were by their interest in particular musical genres.

Although rock began in the rural south, it didn’t remain. With increased interest during the 60s in folksy and psychedelic rock emphasis moved to from the south to bigger metropolitan cities. Some of the cities in mind were San Francisco and Los Angeles in California, New York in the east and London in Europe. However, this trend also didn’t remain dominant forever.  In the 70s rock moved to the south and hence southern rock came to be. Southern rock can be described as a mixture of well, of course rock, gospel, country, and blues and flavored with some southern attitude. Southern rock took hold with a vengeance and everyone wanted a piece. Musical talents like Charlie Daniels and the Allman Brothers became a contribution to the musical post-civil right time.

Lynyrd Skynyrd rooted on the dirt of a baseball field is one of the most well know and all around successful team of musicians to arise from the era. Pre-teen Gary Rossington and young teen Bob Burns were spectators in a baseball game where Ronnie Van Zant’s batted ball hit Burns. When Van Zant hurried to Burns to check on him, the trio met and became instant pals. Shortly after they began sharing music interest and well the rest is history. As an aside two of the band members had a huge interest in becoming baseball superstars as well as musical talents. Guess one of those dreams really worked out.  This whole baseball story all took place in 1964.

If you’ve heard songs like “Free Bird” or “Sweet Home Alabama” then you’ve heard of Lynyrd Skynrd. They became famous by appealing to southern hometown loyalty in songs like “Sweet Home Alabama” featured above. They’re characterized by rhythms of boogie, triple-lead guitar and music verbiage that echoed the ideas of the southern working class. People say Lynyrd Skynrd really resonated with a large audience because they were a bit or a lot grittier then parallel musical artists and groups. Unfortunately, a disaster struck the band and destroyed it before they could become like the groups they aspired to live up to – The Beatles, Rolling Stones etc.

In 1977 as the band was on its way to play some prestigious venues, including Madison Square Garden most of the members were killed in a plane crash. Due to pilot negligence and bad fuel levels the plane crashed in the middle of a Mississippi swampland. Killed in the crash were Cassie and Steve Gaines, Ronnie Van Zant, manager Dean Kilpatrick and the pilots. Everyone else was badly hurt. Ed King died in 1975 a few years earlier when the bands schedule proved to be too much for him at the time. Had these tragedies not struck, things could have been very different. Lynyrd Skynyrd no doubt would have had even more of an impact on rock music today.