For many, Lynyrd Skynyrd's redneck image tended to obscure the songwriting skills of their leader, Ronnie Van Zant. 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 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.
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. 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 The group became notorious for their triple-guitar attack, which was showcased on "Free Bird," a tribute to the recently deceased Duane Allman.
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 , and it became the band's first Top Ten hit. The record was followed by the Tom Dowd-produced Gimme Back My Bullets in , 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 , 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, 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 ; it had been scheduled for release before the crash.
Later in , Rossington and Collins formed a new band -- naturally named Rossington Collins Band -- that featured four surviving members. Simple Man Modify 5. I Never Dreamed 6. I Know A Little 7. Gimme Back My Bullets Workin' For Mca Thomasson left the band to reform his band Outlaws in , dying two years later in Original keyboardist Powell died at the age of 56 at his home near Jacksonville, FL in Live from Freedom Hall was released on the same label in Lynyrd Skynyrd View on Apple Music.
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