The Tragic Story Of Ronnie Van Zant’s Daughter Tammy Van Zant
Music history is filled with tragedies, and numerous infamous incidents have occurred on the rock scene. For example, the Jefferson Starship riot of 1978 had no casualties, but it was traumatizing for the band. The similar tragedies that occurred during the Who’s 1979 Cincinnati show and Pearl Jam’s ‘Roskilde Festival’ show resulted in eleven and nine people’s deaths, respectively.
These incidents didn’t only strike the audience and the music acts but also affected the artists’ families. For instance, Bon Jovi struggled with his daughter’s substance abuse, the Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger lost his girlfriend to suicide, and Julian Lennon suffered from his father’s absence.
Yet, dark clouds gathered upon the artists as well. From Kurt Cobain to Chris Cornell, various musicians lost their lives to suicide. Artists such as Buddy Holly and Patsy Cline died in aviation accidents, and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Ronnie Van Zant shared the unfortunate fates of Holly and Cline.
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s future seemed bright as the band’s debut album was a commercial success. Unfortunately, the frontman’s plane crashed while his career was at its peak, but today, we won’t discuss Ronnie’s tragic fate. Instead, we will focus on another life, the story of an orphaned girl, the sad tale of the eldest daughter of Van Zant, Tammy.
How Did Ronnie Van Zant’s Accident Shape Tammy Van Zant’s Life?
The calls started to come in on October 20, 1977. It had initially seemed like it would be just any other day, yet it would change Tammy’s life forever. The news confirmed that Lynyrd Skynyrd’s frontman Ronnie Van Zant had lost his life due to an aviation accident.
The news shocked many people, but the effects it had on the general public would eventually pass. After all, even though many admired Ronnie’s talents, he was not a part of their everyday life. However, the tragedy would leave its mark on Tammy, who was ten at the time of her father’s death. Unfortunately, the young girl wasn’t lucky enough to be parented by stable figures.
Her mother, Nadine Inscoe, suffered from prescription drug addiction. Due to her addiction, she couldn’t attend to her daughter’s needs, while her stepmother, Judy Seymour, pretended like the little girl didn’t exist. Thus, Tammy’s well-being relied on the care of her grandmothers. The little girl would spend her entire life remembering past traumas while trying to move on.
After her troubling childhood with a tragically lost father and unattentive mother figures, Van Zant decided to follow her father’s path. She was a natural musician, just like her father and uncle, Johnny Van Zant, who kept the Lynyrd Skynyrd heritage alive. Tammy as the sole witness of what she had been through, reflected her life into her melodies. Yet, bad luck would continue following her later in life.
How Did Ronnie Van Zant’s Daughter Tammy Pass Away?
Just like in the Van Halen family, it seemed like the Van Zant family also had a grasp for musical talent. Tammy wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps, but she had no prior experience. Yet, her lack of professional experience didn’t stop her desire to sing and reflect on her life. The singer wrote and composed, ‘Freebird Child.’
The website dedicated to her projects expressed that Van Zant’s family friend and producer Robert White Johnson had stated that Tammy had a natural talent for writing. The lyrics would come to her easily because she was writing about her life and truth. The singer’s father, Ronnie, was also praised for successfully reflecting his life into his work.
She released her single, ‘Freebird Child‘ in 2009, and the release was followed by her 2014 debut studio record of the same name, which was dedicated to her father’s memory. Her other track, ‘Surviving On A Wing and A Prayer’ was dedicated to all the women who had struggled with hardships.
Tammy’s music was inspired by real-life tragedies, and her tunes would reflect the pain she had felt. Her website later announced that she was working on a memoir, and the book would have the same name as her debut album. Unfortunately, things wouldn’t go as planned, and her life was cut short.
It was announced on July 11, 2010, via Facebook that Tammy Michelle Van Zant had passed away at the age of 54. The announcement was made by her aunt, Jane Van Zant, or Aunt Jane, as Lynyrd Skynyrd fans would call her. Jane expressed her sadness while asking for prayers for the Van Zant family.
Jane Van Zant’s announcement regarding Tammy’s death on Facebook:
“With a sad heart, I’m asking for prayers for the Van Zant family as we lost Ronnie’s oldest daughter Tammy Michelle Van Zant last night.”
Aunt Jane didn’t disclose the reason why they had lost Tammy. From a young age, Tammy Van Zant had to fight to survive. She had decided to follow her father’s steps into music, but her tragic fate didn’t let her complete her future projects. Tammy was born as a Freebird, but she was sadly trapped by her tragedies.
You can listen to ‘Freebird Child’ below.