Looking Back On The Day Lynyrd Skynyrd Lost Ronnie, Steve, & Cassie

Lynyrd SkynyrdAt the height of its fame in 1977, southern rock band LYNYRD SKYNYRD was struck with tragedy — a plane crash that killed the band’s founder and lead singer Ronnie Van Zant along with Steve Gaines, backup singer Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray. Lynyrd Skynyrd have postponed this weekend’s stops on their Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour so that founding member Gary Rossington can recover from a recent heart procedure. The 67-year-old guitarist had been experiencing fatigue, according to a press release, and underwent surgery to fix a leaky heart valve on July 31st.

Last year the iconic group, known for such hits as What’s Your Name, Saturday Night Special, Sweet Home Alabama and Free Bird, announced that after a career that has spanned more than 40 years and includes a catalog of more than 60 albums with more than 30 million units sold, they would embark on their Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour. The farewell tour logged over 50 stops by the end of 2018 and has continued throughout 2019 taking the band across the country and around the globe in countries such as France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and the U.K., giving fans one last unforgettable night of classic American Rock-and-Roll.

Craig shares his stories about serving as the band’s fixer, providing access to drugs, alcohol and women. His tales of crazy parties and wrecked hotel rooms stand in contrast with Leslie’s accounts of attempting to balance life as a mother and rock star. Gene, Craig and Leslie share their stories of recovery in the hospital, how they found out about the news of Ronnie’s death and how they coped with the tragedy.

On the heels of last week’s announcement that the Rock & Roll Hall of Famers would be taking their blockbuster farewell tour to Canada in spring 2019 comes word the band will head to the U.K. and Europe next summer. They will be joined by special guests, Status Quo, for U.K. dates. The run of headline and festival dates will give European fans one last night of unforgettable classic Southern rock music.

On November 28, 2005, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced that Lynyrd Skynyrd would be inducted alongside Black Sabbath , Blondie , Miles Davis , and the Sex Pistols 53 They were inducted in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan on March 13, 2006 during the Hall’s 21st annual induction ceremony. The inductees included Ronnie Van Zant , Allen Collins , Gary Rossington , Ed King , Steve Gaines , Billy Powell , Leon Wilkeson , Bob Burns , and Artimus Pyle (post-crash members, the Honkettes, and pre-crash members Rickey Medlocke , Larry Junstrom , and Greg T. Walker , were not inducted). The current version of Skynyrd, augmented by King, Pyle, Burns, and former Honkettes JoJo Billingsley and Leslie Hawkins, performed ” Sweet Home Alabama ” and ” Free Bird ” at the ceremony, which was also attended by Judy Van Zant Jenness and Ronnie’s two daughters, Teresa Gaines Rapp and her daughter Corinna, Allen Collins’ daughters, and Leon Wilkeson’s mother and son.

Notable: Wilkeson, known as Skynyrd’s “Mad Hatter,” was present for the band’s glory years and injured in the fateful 1977 plane crash. He signed on for the Skynyrd reunion a decade later, and remained a familiar and popular figure on stage. Wilkeson died in 2001 in a Florida hotel room.


Lynyrd Skynyrd has popularized the Southern rock genre of music with songs such as “Free Bird” and “Sweet Home Alabama.” Originally formed in 1964 under the name My Backyard, the band eventually changed its name to Lynyrd Skynyrd. Since its formation, the group has sold over 28 million records in the US. In 1977, the band kicked off the Street Survivors Tour, during which it played in venues across the country as well as in the UK and Europe. In March 2006, Lynyrd Skynyrd was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Following a performance at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium in Greenville, South Carolina , on October 20, 1977, the band boarded a chartered Convair CV-240 bound for Baton Rouge, Louisiana , where they were scheduled to appear at LSU the following night. After running out of fuel the pilots attempted an emergency landing before crashing in a heavily forested area five miles northeast of Gillsburg, Mississippi 27 28 Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines, along with backup singer Cassie Gaines (Steve’s older sister), assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary, and co-pilot William Gray were killed on impact; other band members (Collins, Rossington, Wilkeson, Powell, Pyle, and Hawkins), tour manager Ron Eckerman, 29 and several road crew suffered serious injuries.

They are perhaps the quintessential southern rock band. For 45 years and through enough triumph and tragedy to last a lifetime, Lynyrd Skynyrd always remained true to their fans and to their roots. In 2018 the band embarked on their farewell tour and on November 7 Fathom Events will bring the legendary rockers to the big screen with the exclusive theatrical release of their farewell concert performance.

The chronic connection reportedly happened backstage at an event in San Jose, Calif. In video and pictures posted to Instagram , Snoop is seen handing the blunt to Skynyrd co-founder Gary Rossington , while hamming it up with other members of the band. Guitarist Rickey Medlocke can also be overheard suggesting Snoop sing with the group at an upcoming show.

In the latest thrilling episode, Mick and Joel take a wise and witty wonder through the fast life and tumultuous times of Ronnie Van Zant, frontman of Florida rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd. Best known for Sweet Home Alabama and the epic Freebird, Skynyrd are usually portrayed as wild bunch of redneck renegades. There’s certainly more than a grain of truth in that, but what’s often forgotten is that they were also fabulous, pioneering musicians and tone of the biggest bands on the planet when their plane fell from the sky in October 1977.

Ronnie was just 3 months shy of turning 30 years old when he died. We also remember that this plane crash claimed the lives of Skynyrd band member Steve Gaines as well. This horrific accident would alter the course of rock music forever.

Lineup: Ronnie Van Zant – vocals; Gary Rossington – Gibson Les Paul guitar; Allen Collins – Gibson Firebird guitar; Ed King – Fender Stratocaster guitar (sheez, these guys really took their duties too seriously); Billy Powell – keyboards; Leon Wilkeson – bass; Bob Burns – drums. Burns left in 1975, replaced by Artimus Pyle. King left in 1976, replaced by Steve Gaines. Van Zant and Gaines perished in an air crash, 1977; the band broke up soon afterwards. Eventually, they reunited in 1987, with Ronnie’s brother, Johnny Van Zant, stepping in on vocals and Randal Hall taking up position of third guitarist. They’re still up there, actually, and still recording; some of the latter day albums are reviewed on the page, although I must give out an initial warning – don’t even think of starting your acquaintance with Skynyrd through the latter day releases.

Smoking session aside, Lynyrd Skynyrd have been busy lately. The group is in the midst of the Last of the Street Survivors farewell tour , with dates currently stretching into November. A concert film capturing their hometown performance in Jacksonville, Fla., will be screened in theaters nationwide on Nov. 7.

Notable: Matejka, 49, was a founding member of the country band Hot Apple Pie. He joined Skynyrd after Hot Apple Pie released a debut album for DreamWorks Nashville and the label folded.

With a catalog of over 60 albums, sales beyond 30 million worldwide and their beloved classic American rock anthem Sweet Home Alabama” having over two million downloaded ringtones, Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Lynyrd Skynyrd remains a cultural icon that appeals to all generations.

Wanna mellow out? ‘One More Time’ is a nice and thought-provoking ballad, although the fact that it was actually an old outtake (you can easily find an earlier version on Skynyrd’s First) makes me wonder if it was really so problematic for them to sit down and write something new at the time. Wanna boogie in? ‘I Know A Little’ is one of their fastest and most danceable tunes, with excellent jazzy guitar runs from Gaines, of an almost Alvin Lee-like character. Or else you have ‘You Got That Right’, another excellent rave-up from the boys. In short, most of this stuff cooks.

The band subsequently released a string of studio albums including Endangered Species” in 1994, Twenty” in 1997, Edge of Forever” in 1999, Christmas Time Again” in 2000, Vicious Cycle” in 2003 and God & Guns” in 2009. In 2012 Lynyrd Skynyrd released the album Last of a Dyin’ Breed”, it was produced by Bob Marlette and recorded at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.

You can buy Lynyrd Skynyrd tickets at StubHub, where you’re backed by its FanProtect guarantee. You can easily purchase tickets securely and safely via your desktop computer or mobile device, and you can also find all of the latest information about the Lynyrd Skynyrd tour.

No one wanted to get on the plane that night. It had flown close to 30,000 miles in its tenure, and originally it was seen as an upgrade. The band is from the Deep South (Van Zant hailed from Jacksonville, Florida) and short hops were the norm for them.


Skynyrd, for their part, appeared to love the experience. The musicians were all smiles in pictures, posing with both Snoop and the blunt. The band was also sure to hashtag #itslegalhere, just in case naysayers were considering denouncing the good time.

Lynyrd Skynyrd is known for hits including Sweet Home Alabama. The group disbanded abruptly in 1977 following a plane crash which killed Ronnie Van Zant, replacement guitarist Steve Gaines, and backup singer Cassie Gaines.

But the court of appeals, in a 3-to-0 ruling on Wednesday, said the wording of the decree was problematic because it prevented Mr. Pyle from making a movie about Lynyrd Skynyrd’s history, but not a movie about his experiences with the band, including the crash.


The band abruptly ceased when Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and backup singer Cassie Gaines were killed in an airplane crash on October 20, 1977, but reformed in 1987 for a reunion tour with Ronnie’s brother, Johnny Van Zant, as its lead vocalist. Lynyrd Skynyrd continues to tour and record with co-founder Rossington (being the band’s sole continuous member), Johnny Van Zant, and Rickey Medlocke, who first wrote and recorded with the band from 1971 to 1972 before his return in 1996. In January 2018, Lynyrd Skynyrd announced its farewell tour, and continue touring as of October 2019. Members are also working on their fifteenth album.

Former Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Ed King, who co-wrote the hit Sweet Home Alabama, has died aged 68. King, who was born in California, joined the rock band in 1972. He left three years later after fighting with lead singer Ronnie Van Zant.

Having returned to active duty, Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded prolifically in the Nineties. Their output included The Last Rebel (1993) and the all-acoustic Endangered Species (1994). The latter appeared on the Capricorn label, which had been home to the Allman Brothers and other Southern rock groups in the Seventies. Twenty (1997) and Edge of Forever (1999), along with the concert album Lyve from Steel Town (1998), were released on CMC International. Along with their new works came a flood of compilations and reissues, including a box set, a single-disc of greatest hits, a two-CD set of rarities, expanded editions of several of the classic early albums, a Christmas album, and the double disc Thyrty: The Thirtieth Anniversary Collection.

Junstrom first embarked on his music career sometime in the mid-‘60s playing for early versions of Lynyrd Skynyrd alongside Ronnie Van Zant, Gary Rossington, Bob Burns and Allen Collins, People magazine shared on Tuesday.

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