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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 Steel Town 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. 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. In April 2015, original Skynyrd drummer Bob Burns died in a single-car accident in Bartow County, Georgia. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Steve Leggett, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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Billy pyle pianist was a mans man , crawling through that swamp 2and a half miles with his ribcage hanging out ,gators snakes spiders ,you dont need no gypsy to tell ya why!
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onkehkhp
Turn it up!
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maisyrox
Dude their bio could totally be a movie!
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Lynyrd Skynyrd is my favorite band, but anyone has to admit how cool it is that they have kept going so long. Nine members have died and they are still going strong! The new stuff is different, but it's not bad! Ronnie would be proud that his band has become more than just that. They have become the voice of the south.
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Every time I hear this band it reminds me that it's still a better band then any
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There is hardly a simple man left to be found.
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Skyward ruled. This isn't about politics and some relic flag it's about the GREATNESS of the band.
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I'm Mexican but I like this song please don't hate me
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My favorite song of all time!!
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Come on people why is it after we gave so many American lives under the. Rebel flag that now you all. Can say them lives don't matter. I hate to say it. But I'm surrounded by. Retardas! !!!
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Nice, LS
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Peacemaker the Confederate flag is also history should we just forget it if you want to worry about something Attack the Nazi flag
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Quit griping about the rebel flag if you have a problem trying to love two flags get rid of it
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I find this to be one of the most brilliant songs ever written. I would like to hear Fred Durst with Limp Bizkit re-do this just like he did with Behind Blue Eyes by The Who. He made that song sexy and as if this Simple Man song isn't already sexy enough, I know Fred could do it.
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Great words from your Mom! The flag simply went away! We are American!!! Thats the flag we fly in America!! With all do Respect to the civil war Heros!
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Ballad of Curtis Loew great song so much 70 s n that tune
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hi dude
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Can't get enough of this song such good rythem #1 in book
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Oh, it's Simple Kind of Life by Gwen Stefani
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Simple Man: It's OK because I am a simple woman too, as in Gwen Stefani's Simple Life song. Listen to that and you will know me.
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Ballad of Curtis Lowe is a great song but you have to go with Free bird as their best song
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LYNRYD SKYNARD 4 -RVER
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Ballard of Cutis Lowe is my all time favorite Lymard Skynard songs
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two2stackmac k
I can remember when donnie vanzant was the lead singer-songw r i t e r n died in a plane crash that was a sad day ive seen em live back in the day when I was a teenager w ted nuggent at hara areana n contry concert in the 90s n my daughter got us tickets for my 50th b-day at the fraze helll i have skynnard lic plates on my 55 chevy they still rock
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galligang1
Free Bird, a hot Stockton CA. Night, cruising Pacific Ave in my 1970 Chevelle Super Sport, cold Coors and hanging out At Jack in the Box! We really were Free birds!!! And Skynyrd was ripping the strings!
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I was blessed to see them in Seattle, Washington, my hometown, just months before the tragic plane crash....Fre e b i r d was their third encore!!!
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I can recall seeing Lynyrd Skynyrd play a set in their old neighborhood bar in 1975, Jacksonville , FL. They just finished recording their first studio album. S**t, they were great then and became better!
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I grew up listening to this band and l have never once missed seeing Lynyrd Skynyrd when they came to Little Rock Arkansas the one that sticks out is the time they played the whole show and no Free Bird the lights went of they walked of stage and people was starting to leave and my friend said let's go l just looked at her and said its not over they have not done Free Bird.and l was not going to leave l know this band all at once you could have heard a pin drop the stage Still black when all at
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That was a tragic day when there plane crashed we will all remember
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Great Version of Crossroads.
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Skynyrd is rock and roll
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Nick a tip of my hat to u & ur dad.
Feel better my friend
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Southern Rock that will Live Forever!!!
Nothing Better!!
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jacesgrammy
To my son Nick, ur gonna be feeling better soon, momma loves u
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Skynyrd will always be the best
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joelbohanan
Yes it is going well for me to be better off if y'all want to go squat?SORRY I'm on Monday morning Coach Mike and I'm grateful dead or tomorrow if it's the only reason I will bring your email to do you a favor for that xbox is going to be there around noon and we can take the meet was not gaining popularity and I'm gonna be at least a truck to get weightliftin g to do whatever works best bodybuilding supplements to the blue and he realized it is to the blue white tonight but I'll try tomorrow I'm
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Luv skynrd
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To my son Jacob, I love you.
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violetsmuse
Rockin at home to this, hell yeah!
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and this bird you cannot change ......
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They rock like crazy
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Free Bird..
Had set you free..
Baby bird..
Return when your an Eagle...
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walmart wont put a confederate flag on a cake but will put a ISIS flag on one...WTF!!! ! !
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The confederate flag ain't a symbol if slavery it's a symbol of the south and it's culture fly the flag
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Follow me and I will follow you back!
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smith98387
A flag is nothing more than a symbol, just like someone flippin you off. Get over it people! Next thing you know, flags will start killin people just like the spoon made you fat.
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nicko252008
Fly the flag!!
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The Union flag was hoisted on the slave ships, not the Rebel flag. After the war Lincoln sent his army to wipe out the Indians. Genocide is pretty racist. The Union flag should be taken down everywhere in shame.
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