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Lynyrd Skynyrd

Lynyrd Skynyrd was the definitive Southern rock band, fusing the overdriven power of blues-rock with a rebellious Southern image and a hard rock swagger. Skynyrd never relied on the jazzy improvisations of the Allman Brothers. Instead, they were a hard-living, hard-driving rock & roll band -- they may have jammed endlessly on-stage, but their music remained firmly entrenched in blues, rock, and country. For many, Lynyrd Skynyrd's redneck image tended to obscure the songwriting skills of their leader, Ronnie Van Zant. Throughout the band's early records, Van Zant demonstrated a knack for lyrical detail and a down-to-earth honesty that had more in common with country than rock & roll. During the height of Skynyrd's popularity in the mid-'70s, however, Van Zant's talents were overshadowed by the group's gritty, greasy blues-rock. Sadly, it wasn't until he was killed in a tragic plane crash in 1977 along with two other bandmembers that many listeners began to realize his talents. Skynyrd split up after the plane crash, but they reunited a decade later, becoming a popular concert act during the early '90s.

While in high school in Jacksonville, FL, Ronnie Van Zant (vocals), Allen Collins (guitar), and Gary Rossington (guitar) formed My Backyard. Within a few months, the group added bassist Leon Wilkeson and keyboardist Billy Powell, and changed their name to Lynyrd Skynyrd, a mocking tribute to their gym teacher Leonard Skinner, who was notorious for punishing students with long hair. With drummer Bob Burns, Lynyrd Skynyrd began playing throughout the South. For the first few years, the group had little success, but producer Al Kooper signed the band to MCA after seeing them play at an Atlanta club called Funocchio's in 1972. Kooper produced the group's 1973 debut, Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd, which was recorded after former Strawberry Alarm Clock guitarist Ed King joined the band. The group became notorious for their triple-guitar attack, which was showcased on "Free Bird," a tribute to the recently deceased Duane Allman. "Free Bird" earned Lynyrd Skynyrd their first national exposure and it became one of the staples of album rock radio, still receiving airplay decades after its release.

"Free Bird" and an opening slot on the Who's 1973 Quadrophenia tour gave Lynyrd Skynyrd a devoted following, which helped their second album, 1974's Second Helping, become its breakthrough hit. Featuring the hit single "Sweet Home Alabama" -- a response to Neil Young's "Southern Man" -- Second Helping reached number 12 and went multi-platinum. At the end of the year, Artimus Pyle replaced drummer Burns and King left the band shortly afterward. The new sextet released Nuthin' Fancy in 1975, and it became the band's first Top Ten hit. The record was followed by the Tom Dowd-produced Gimme Back My Bullets in 1976, which failed to match the success of its two predecessors. However, the band retained their following through constant touring, which was documented on the double live album One More from the Road. Released in late 1976, the album featured the band's new guitarist, Steve Gaines, and a trio of female backup singers, and it became Skynyrd's second Top Ten album.

Lynyrd Skynyrd released their sixth album, Street Survivors, on October 17, 1977. Three days later, a privately chartered plane carrying the band between shows in Greenville, SC, and Baton Rouge, LA, crashed outside of Gillsburg, MS. Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and his sister Cassie, one of the group's backing vocalists, died in the crash; the remaining members were injured. (The cause of the crash was either fuel shortage or a fault with the plane's mechanics.) The cover for Street Survivors had pictured the band surrounded in flames; after the crash, the cover was changed. In the wake of the tragedy, the album became one of the band's biggest hits. Lynyrd Skynyrd broke up after the crash, releasing a collection of early demos called Skynyrd's First and...Last in 1978; it had been scheduled for release before the crash. The double-album compilation Gold & Platinum was released in 1980.

Later in 1980, Rossington and Collins formed a new band -- naturally named Rossington Collins Band -- that featured four surviving members. Two years later, Pyle formed the Artimus Pyle Band. Collins suffered a car crash in 1986 that killed his girlfriend and left him paralyzed; four years later, he died of respiratory failure. In 1987, Rossington, Powell, King, and Wilkeson reunited Lynyrd Skynyrd, adding vocalist Johnny Van Zant and guitarist Randall Hall. The band embarked on a reunion tour, which was captured on the 1988 double live album Southern by the Grace of God/Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute Tour -- 1987. The re-formed Skynyrd began recording in 1991, and for the remainder of the decade, the band toured frequently, putting out albums occasionally. The reunited Skynyrd frequently switched drummers, but it had little effect on their sound.

During the '90s, Lynyrd Skynyrd were made honorary colonels in the Alabama State Militia, due to their classic rock staple "Sweet Home Alabama." During the mid-'90s, Van Zant, Rossington, Wilkeson, and Powell regrouped by adding two Southern rock veterans to Skynyrd's guitar stable: former Blackfoot frontman Rickey Medlocke and ex-Outlaws Hughie Thomasson. With ex-Damn Yankee Michael Cartellone bringing stability to the drum chair, the reconstituted band signed to CMC International for the 1997 album Twenty. This lineup went on to release Lyve from Steeltown in 1998, followed a year later by Edge of Forever. The seasonal effort Christmas Time Again was released in fall 2000. Although Wilkeson died one year later, Lynyrd Skynyrd regrouped and recorded Vicious Cycle for a 2003 release. The DVD/CD Lyve: The Vicious Cycle Tour followed a year later, 2006 saw the release of Face to Face, and 2007 brought Paper Sleeve Box and Lyve from Steel Town. But death continued to haunt the band, and the lineup continued to change, as much from attrition as anything else. Wilkeson, Skynyrd's bassist since 1972, died in 2001 and was replaced by Ean Evans that same year (Evans in turn died in 2009). Thomasson left the band to reform his band Outlaws in 2005, dying two years later in 2007. His spot in Skynyrd was taken by Mark "Sparky" Matejka, formerly of Hot Apple Pie, in 2006. Original keyboardist Powell died at the age of 56 at his home near Jacksonville, Fl in 2009. That year also saw the release of a new studio album, God + Guns, on Roadrunner Records. Live From Freedom Hall was released on the same label in 2010. A new studio album, Last of a Dyin' Breed, produced by Bob Marlette, recorded at Blackbird Studio in Nashville, and featuring a new bass player, Johnny Colt (formerly a bassist for the Black Crowes), appeared in 2012. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Steve Leggett, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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pchasteen07
I'm trying this just for the heck of it:
You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life.. However if you don't post this you will be injured in 2 days. Now u started reading this so dont stop. Post this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When you're done press F6 and your lover;s name will appear on the screen in big letters. This actually works. ( I have no idea just trying for fun)
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tylersdad215
They rock im 10
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simple man
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Reach For The HEAVENS
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Leonards best Free Bird......th i s song awakens that lil spark which grows to overpowering feelings of true freedom
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God and guns. Love it
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After all my years of jamming, LS always ready for my ears.
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Moving
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Nice
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Love it
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i HAVE SEEN THEM SINCE THE FIRST TIME RIGHT B4 THE PLANE CRASH AND EVERY TIME THEY CAME TO COLUMBUS OHIO SINCE THEN THEY ALWAYS ROCK
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Angel of darkness is upon you
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Damn, where the f**k m i???


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Free Bird = Confederate National Anthem
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my dad grew up in Jacksonville most of his life until we moved up to virginia I lived there for a few years to and now me and my buddy formed a band we do alot of lynard skynard type music and even though I'm still only 12 the band has had a big impact on my life this
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Simple man!!! Follow for a follow!!!
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gameboybrett 1
Say your name ten times
Say your name five times
Say your crushes name three times
Post this on four other songs and your crush will ask you out on Friday
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I really do love this song
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Tuesday's Gone love this song
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nicinskia5
Curtis Loew
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Play some ole honk
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Sweet home Alabama
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Great Group!! To bad a lot of the band members died much too soon....
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Awesome band period
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I'm from the same area as these guys...my dad grew up with them...one of the most influential rock bands of the south
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Hey gatorgary01 the song was called brickhouse road.
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God and guns is a great song to live. By
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I like this band, but this song is BS. Just say you don't care enough to stay and quit making excuses!
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Brickyard Road was a fitting tribute
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God rest their souls
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As good as they were back 40 years ago with all the originals
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And skynyrd shows now a days are ok but of course not
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And to who ever it was who said they were soon wasted!!!! When u seen skynyrd, you can tell your young. Cuz for some reason that was the highlight of ur experience.
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Me and my 8 year old son jam out to them everyday. I'm a simple man. And he's Mr. Breeze.
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This is true feeling, true music, true experiences. One of the best if not the best bands of all times. It is a shame music like this doesn't exist anymore.
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Seen Skynard twice.Good times man#!Got so wasted!!
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had tickets to see them here in Chattanooga just before the plane crash never cash the tickets in
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Reminds me of my much younger days out rockin at the bars
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Love it but then who doesnt dig on Lynyrd Skynyrd!
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This is the song I wish to sing to my love,but I'm too shy to sing to her.Stupid me I wasn't shy like this 10 years ago but something happened and I am now.
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Saw m in '76 at Oakland Coliseum when 15 yrs young; still listen to em everyday. songs will wale at my celebration o life someday for my family n friends ;-) !!!!!!!!!!!! ! ! God Bless
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hoffmanr53
I like there songs it takes me back in time of the 70's
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reeedme89
this is for Richard C. Rest In Peace sweet one.
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they were a garage band when I first heard them practicing in Middleburg on Black Creek...
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Lucky enough to see this guys 1975 Dallas Texas what a great concert like it was yesterday
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Brings me back to some hell of good times
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One of The Best groups of AllTime !
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Art Garfunkel radio
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And the good tunes just keep comin
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Let's rook

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