When you hear the words Lynyrd Skynyrd, you immediately hear “Sweet Home Alabama” playing in the background. This, after all, is the song that shot the group to fame back in ’74. But it was Free Bird that first gave them recognition.
Free Bird and Sweet Home Alabama are still considered today as rock ‘n roll’s best cult classics.
The band made a huge comeback after a ten-year hiatus, some time in 1987, and hasn’t left the rock ‘n roll scene since. Lynyrd Skynyrd today has Gary Rossington as the only original member of the band; the rest joined the group in later years.
How It All Started
Lynyrd Skynyrd was a band established by a group of high school friends back in ’65. Ronnie Van Zant, who would become lead vocals, Gary Rossington and Allen Collins on guitars, Larry Jungstrom would become the bassist and Bob Burns commanded the drums.
What do Noble Five, Wildcats, Sons of Satan and My Backyard have in common? They all used to be the band’s name until the group finally thought of Lynyrd Skynyrd as a play on their teacher’s name, Leonard Skinner, who told the group that they wouldn’t amount to anything much in the future.
By the time the band started playing in gigs, Larry Jungstrom on bass was replaced by Leon Wilkeson; and then Billy Powell joined on as keyboardist. The band was no complete.
Discovered in 1972 by Al Kooper, the band signed-up with Sounds Of The South music label. The rest as they say, is history.
But just when it was starting to come-up roses for the band, tragedy struck in 1977, in the form of a plane crash, shortly after the release of Street Survivors, which turned-out to be the band’s last album together.
Van Zant, Cassie Gaines and the band’s manager would perish at the crash.
This started the band’s ten-year hiatus, coming out again only in 1987. Original members Leon Wilkeson and Billy Powell passed away in 2001 and 2009, respectively.
Today, Lynyrd Skynyrd consists of: Garry Rossington on guitar; Johnny Van Zant, Ronnie’s brother, on vocals; Rickey Medlocke, guitar; Mark Majetka, guitar; Michael Cartellone, drums; Robert Kearns, bass and Peter Pisarczky, keyboards.
Lynyrd Skynyrd in Politics
Lynyrd Skynyrd has always been vocal about their political views but they are not one to insist their views on anyone. They strictly adhere to and respect freedom of speech and expressions; hence, they respect other people’s criticisms of some of their works, particularly their recent release, God & Guns.
They have also participated in charitable works particularly those that will benefit the families of army men, those whose lives are on the line defending the honor of their country.
They are among the performers who will grace this year’s Freedom Concert, a music show that will benefit the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund for children of military men who were severely injured or killed in the line of duty.
In June this year, the band was honored by the US Congress for their contribution to music as well as their strong support for the men and women serving the army.