American pop/rock band, Lynyrd Skynyrd is one of the most celebrated bands in the rock music scene.
With the combination of their intense lyrical content, their distinct musical style of playing firm rock & roll during live performances as well as their ability to meander in the genres of country and blues rock music, the group has earned critical acclaim over the years.
Before the tragedies the band faced, their original line-up consisted of the following:
- Ronald Wayne Van Zant (Ronnie)
- Gary Robert Rossington
- Larkin Allen Collins
- Lawrence Edward Jumstrom (Larry Junstrom)
- Robert Lewis Burns Jr. (Bob Burns)
While most of the original band members have passed on, the band has continued striving with their latest line-up consisting of original band member, Gary and the following:
- Rickey Medlocke
- Johnny Van Zant (younger brother of original band member, Ronnie)
- Michael Cartellone
- Vincent Mark Matjka
- Peter Pisarczyk(Peter Keys)
- Keith Christopher
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Bio
The rock band was formed in the populous city of Jacksonville Florida. It began in 1964 when three high school boys, Ronnie, Gary and Bob became friends while playing for their high school baseball teams.
Accidentally during one of their baseball games, Ronnie hit Bob with the baseball knocking him out completely for a while.
The three boys after this incident, spent a great amount of time together leading to the occasional show of talent by each of them. They decided they were good together and formed a band. Allen Collins joined as a guitarist with bassist Larry Junstrom.
They started out as My Backyard in 1964 and by the end of 1968 had run through names such as The Noble Five and The One Percent.
They finally changed their name to Leonard Skinner, inspired by their surly physical education teacher from their high school, after their “The One Percent” brand was disliked by their fans. They spelt it as Lynyrd Skynyrd.
They had begun playing small gigs throughout the south at local concerts in the early 1970’s until they met session producer Al Kooper, in 1972. Kooper subsequently signed them to MCA Records and produced their debut album, Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd in 1973.
The band then recruited guitarist Ed King who featured on the album too. This album gave the band their first big win, selling over one million copies and received a gold certification from none other than the RIAA.
Their second album Second Helping was released a year later, settling all critics on the band’s success as a notable band in their time. It also received gold and platinum certifications.
1975 proved to be tough as certain personal issues of the band members resulted in Bob Burns leaving the band after a mental breakdown during their European Tour.
Not long after, producer Al Kooper also separated from the band after the recording of their third album. During this time, Ed King also left unexpectedly. They recruited three backup singers namely Leslie Kwakins, vocalist Cassie Gaines (Late) and Deborah Jo Billingsley (Late).
They released their sixth album Street Survivors on 17th October 1977, three days before their devastating plane crash in Gills burg, Mississippi ripping from the band’s heart, Ronnie, Stevie and Cassie , with others seriously injured.
Their album Street Survivors became one of the band’s greatest hits after the plane crash.
Lynyrd Skynyrd could not hold after this incident and disbanded until 1987. During the period of their breakup, some band members formed new bands; Rossington Collins Band and Allen Collins Band. Allen Collins was again involved in a car accident that rendered him paralyzed from his chest to his foot.
The band reunited in 1987 with the line-up of Gary, former member Ed King, Billy Powell, Leon Wilkeson and Artimus Pyle.During.
In 1996, Ed King suffered some heart complications and laid back from the band for a while and was replaced by Hugh Edward Thomasson.
Rickey Medlocke was hired in place of another member. Kenny Aronoff was hired as a drummer by their 2000 album Christmas Time Again.
The band lost another member, Leon Wilkerson to sickness. The group grew stronger throughout the years even after these tragedies.
In 2009, Billy Powell suffered a heart attack and died. By 2012, the band had beaten all odds with the release of several albums and going on several tours.
Bob Burns, one of the two surviving original members died on August 3, 2015 in a car crash and was followed by Ed King on October 6, 2019, who died of cancer. Lynyrd Skynyrd announced their farewell tour soon after Ed’s death.
The Southern American stalwarts have been honored for their contribution to the music industry throughout the course of their career.
For example, they cleared the No. 95 spot for themselves on Rolling Magazine’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time in 2004. A couple of years alter, they were inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. This was on March 13, 2006.
They are also noted to have earned many tributes including an All-Star Tribute in 2007, the band Drive-By-Truckers dedicating their album Southern Rock Opera to the band, among many others.
Many different country music artists collaborated to record the Skynyrd tribute album, Skynyrd Frynds in 1994.
Interesting Facts about Lynyrd Skynyrd
-The band was named after the coach / gym teacher of some of the band members. He was known as Leonard Skinner.
–Lynyrd Skynyrd is the only band in Rock N’ Roll that has a 13-letter name without a single vowel.
-Before becoming the iconic lyrical genius that he was, Ronnie Van Zant wanted to play baseball and actually have a career in it.
-The band began with an accident that occurred at a baseball match between two band members (Ronnie and Bob)
Lynyrd Skynyrd had a way of distinguishing themselves from the crowd of pop/rock bands that were thriving in their time.
Even their series of tragedies have been described as an unfortunate historical moment for the band. For many music lovers, they were the reliable and hardworking geniuses that understood music and had intense desire to fulfil all aspects of it. However, for the drama loving critics, they were the pile of saga, love and tragedy in an ongoing novel they loved to read.
Famous Lynyrd Skynyrd Songs
- “Ain’t No Good Life”
- “All I Can Do Is Write About It”
- “Born to Run”
- “Bring It On”
- “Don’t Ask Me No Questions” (remix)
- “Double Trouble”
- “Down South Jukin'”
- “Free Bird“
- “Gimme Back My Bullets”
- “Gimme Three Steps”
- “Good Lovin’s Hard to Find”
- “I Know a Little”
- “Keeping the Faith”
- “Last of a Dyin’ Breed”
- “Last of the Street Survivors”
- “Made in the Shade”
- “Mr. Banker”
- “Preacher Man”
- “Red White & Blue (Love It or Leave)”
- “Roll Gypsy Roll”
- “Saturday Night Special”
- “Simple Life”
- “Skynyrd Nation”
- “Smokestack Lightning”
- “Still Unbroken”
- “Swamp Music”
- “Sweet Home Alabama”
- “Take Your Time”
- “That Ain’t My America”
- “That Smell”
- “Travelin’ Man”
- “Truck Drivin’ Man”
- “What’s Your Name?”
- “You Got That Right”