The Real Reason Behind Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Comeback After Losing Three Members
There’s no doubt that Lynyrd Skynyrd is widely known for their legendary albums released so far such as ‘Second Helping,’ ‘Street Survivors,’ ‘Nuthin’ Fancy,’ and many more all of which made them one of the greatest artists of all time. Unfortunately, their monumental albums, numerous chart hits, and record-breaking tours aren’t the only things that are known about the band since Lynyrd Skynyrd members experienced a horrible plane crash which resulted in the passing of three members as well as seriously injured band members.
After spending five years touring small venues under various names and with several lineup changes before deciding on ‘Lynyrd Skynyrd‘ in 1969, the band finally released its first album on August 13, 1973, and they gained distant recognition with the record since it was certified gold on December 18, 1974, and double platinum on July 21, 1987, by the RIAA, as well as peaking at 27 in the Billboard 200 in 1975.
The following studio albums only became more successful and Lynyrd Skynyrd managed to rose to fame with their iconic Southern rock sound that shines through legendary songs such as ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and ‘Free Bird.’ Perversely, the band’s rising music career was abruptly halted on October 20, 1977, when their plane crashed and killed their three members including lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and backup singer Cassie Gaines along with leaving other members heavily injured. Let’s break down the story of this tragic incident as well as the band’s comeback after losing its crucial members.
Three Members Of Lynyrd Skynyrd Died After A Plane Crash
After a performance at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium in Greenville, South Carolina, on October 20, 1977, Lynyrd Skynyrd members boarded on their plane which was destined to land on Baton Rouge, Louisiana where the band was to appear at LSU the next night. Realizing that the plane was running out of fuel, pilots attempted an emergency landing, however, ended up crashing in a heavily forested area.
The tragic plane crash caused lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and backup singer Cassie Gaines‘ lives along with assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary, and co-pilot William Gray. The other band members and tour manager Ron Eckerman as well as several other road crew members were also heavily injured despite surviving the crash.
Lynyrd Skynyrd Went On A Hiatus And Reunited Once Again
Due to the fact that the incident was heavily traumatic and devastating for the band, Lynyrd Skynyrd disbanded after the tragedy and only reunited for a special occasion which was Charlie Daniels’ Volunteer Jam V in January 1979, during which the band performed an instrumental version of ‘Free Bird.’
For a decade, Lynyrd Skynyrd went on a hiatus during which members made music with other bands, Billy Powell played keyboards in a Christian rock band named Vision, Pyle formed the Artimus Pyle Band in 1982, Allen Collins formed the Allen Collins Band in 1983, however, he left himself permanently paralyzed from the chest down after a car crash that killed his girlfriend Debra Jean Watts and his illness caused his death.
Eventually, Lynyrd Skynyrd reunited for a full-scale tour with five significant members that survived the plane crash, Gary Rossington, Billy Powell, Leon Wilkeson, and Artimus Pyle in 1987, along with guitarist Ed King, who had left the band two years before the crash. It was Ronnie Van Zant’s younger brother, Johnny, who took over the lead singer and songwriting duties.
Despite the fact that the reunited band was intended to be a one-time tribute to the original lineup, they decided to continue and released its first post-reunion album entitled ‘Lynyrd Skynyrd 1991’ on June 11, 1991. Since then, the band experienced multiple lineup changes, however, managed to stay as Lynyrd Skynyrd regardless of how many members have been lost after tragic incidents, they continued to make music and their fans couldn’t be more proud as they see how they all are true survivors.