Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Gary Rossington Says He Copied Duane Allman For ‘Free Bird’

Lynyrd Skynyrd rhythm guitarist Gary Rossington was interviewed by Guitar Player and revealed the details about the creation process of the band’s legendary song ‘Free Bird.’ The rocker admitted that he borrowed the late Allman Brothers Band founder Duane Allman‘s unique guitar trick for the song.

‘(Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd)’ is the debut studio album of Lynyrd Skynyrd, released on August 13, 1973. The record got critical acclaim and drew significant attention from rock music fans. ‘Gimme Three Steps,’ ‘Simple Man,’ ‘Tuesday’s Gone,’ and ‘Free Bird’ became the band’s most-known songs. The latter has an emotional meaning for the band members and was dedicated to a beloved friend of theirs.

In a recent interview, Rossington revealed that they started writing and composing ‘Free Bird’ in 1970, and the guitarist decided to find a new way for the song’s slide part. Therefore, his musical hero and friend Duane Allman told him that using a bottle could create a unique sound; consequently, he copied him with a glass Coricidin bottle. The guitarist also went on to say that he uses the slide on his middle finger instead of pinky since it could cause playing out of tune.

Rossington shared how he copied Allman, saying:

“He told me that a bottle sounds different than a steel slide, and I think it does, so I copied him. Duane was one of my heroes, and, in my opinion, he was the best slide player who ever lived. He had such a great touch. He was always on the pitch, never sharp or flat, and that’s hard to do.

I use the slide on my middle finger. I used to wear it on my pinky so I could use the other fingers to fret with, but I just never had the ‘touch,’ as I call it. When it was on my pinky, I would play out of tune because I couldn’t see the frets as well as when the slide was on my middle finger.”

Unfortunately, Duane Allman passed away due to a tragic motorcycle accident on October 29, 1971, before listening to the album and the song that inspired Rossington. Lynyrd Skynyrd dedicates ‘Free Bird’ to the late musician during their live performances by emphasizing that he’s a free bird now. After losing Allman because of an unexpected incident, the song turned into a bittersweet memory for the band members.

You can listen to the song below.