Can you believe it has been 35 years...??http://delcotimes.com/articles/2012/10/18/entertainment/doc5080672399d82423356182.txt
By MICHAEL CHRISTOPHERRockmusicmenu@hotmail.com
This Saturday marks the anniversary of one of the greatest tragedies in rock and roll; it’s been 35 years since the plane carrying Lynyrd Skynyrd on its 1977 ill-named “Tour of the Survivors” went down in the Louisiana swamps, taking the lives of singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and his sister, backup singer Cassie.
To this day, the fault of the crash is still unknown, wrapped in rumor and conjecture. Whether it was pilot error or plane malfunction, the undisputable fact remains that one of the most talented bands to come out of the United States was snuffed out when it was entering its prime.
Soaring out of Jacksonville, Florida, Skynyrd shot up the charts with a self-titled 1973 debut underscored by the phonetic pronunciation of its consonant only moniker that was a play on a gym teacher that made life hell for the long-haired rebels in high school named Leonard Skinner. The album featured the now classic rock radio staples “Gimme Three Steps” and “Tuesday’s Gone,” but it was the nine minute closer “Free Bird” that would come to define the burgeoning Southern rockers and annoy every music act for the next four decades as drunken concertgoers would shout out the title in a sarcastic manner.
“Free Bird” may have become a punchline over the years, but like its lengthy, and equally derided UK counterpart “Stairway to Heaven,” the well overplayed song is a classic for a reason --- it’s damn good. Finding that sweet spot mix between ballad and flat out guitar jam, the track would become Skynyrd’s hallmark. It took a few years to hit big, buoyed by the success of sophomore effort “Second Helping” and in particular its lead-off track “Sweet Home Alabama.”