The Violation Of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Blood Oath By The Surviving Members
Gary Rossington, the last OG of Lynyrd Skynyrd, sadly passed away not long ago. Following this, the band decided to continue despite the absence of the original members, and fans were split on the issue. Some were all for the band carrying on the legacy, while others were against it, citing various reasons. One big reason was the ‘blood oath’ the original members took years ago. The story of this oath goes back to the heartbreaking plane crash in 1977.
Skynyrds first broke up after the tragic crash that took the lives of lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and backup vocalist Cassie Gaines. The other members were left with some pretty serious injuries in the accident, and the tragic event put an end to the band’s original run.
Out of respect for their fallen friends and at the request of their families, the survivors agreed never to use the band’s name for money again. This pact became known as the ‘blood oath.’ They stuck to it for ten whole years until they decided to regroup in 1987.
The band got back together for a tribute tour and kept making music under the Lynyrd Skynyrd name. But this move didn’t sit well with Ronnie’s widow, Judy, who thought it broke their promise. She and Steve’s widow, Teresa, took the band to court, and a new agreement was hashed out.
This new deal said the band could keep using the name Lynyrd Skynyrd, but only if Gary Rossington and at least two other surviving members—Leon Wilkeson, Billy Powell, Ed King, and Artimus Pyle—were in the lineup. The band stuck to this ‘Rule of Three’ for quite a while, even though they tried to shake off the original lineup’s shadow by adding ‘1991’ to the name at one point.
Fast forward to 2017, and the court even put the brakes on the release of a movie called ‘Street Survivors: The True Story Of Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash.’ Why? Because of that same agreement and the initial oath. The film was going to focus on Pyle’s experiences but wasn’t allowed to see the light of day since it used the band’s name and history.
Now, if you think about it, the band should’ve retired back in 2001. That’s when Wilkeson passed away, leaving just Rossington and Powell as the only original members. But they kept on rocking, thanks to some maneuvering by Rossington and others, like saying guitarist and singer Rickey Medlocke, who played on some of Skynyrd’s earliest stuff, counted as a ‘pre-crash member.’ The agreement kept being ignored even after Powell’s death in 2009, with Rossington as the last man standing.
Today, the band carries on without any of the original members, insisting that it’s in the best interest of the band and that the deceased members will always be with them during performances. The agreement, once a significant part of the band’s history, has faded into obscurity, and Lynyrd Skynyrd continues to perform and keep the legacy alive.