Lynyrd Skynyrd were one of the most dominant southern rock bands of the of the early 70’s, until lead singer and chief songwriter Ronnie Van Zant and other band members died tragically on a flight to Baton Rouge, Lousiana. The band attained iconic status between, 1973-1977, particularly in the southern states in America. The band were a working class band that drew on inspiration around them for almost every aspect of their music, in particular the peculiar name (Lynyrd Skynyrd), the name was inspired by a high school teacher that taught some of the band that went by the name Leonard Skinnerd who was a strict disciplinarian. The name would become one of the most distinctive names in pop music.
The band was built around front man Ronnie Van Zant who got together with some of his high school friends Allen Collins (guitar) and Gary Rossington (guitar) to form a band that would later become Lynyrd Skynard. Members Leon Wilkeson (bass), Bob Burns (drums) and Billy Powell (keyboardist) would join the band later, and multiple line-up changes would take place over the years.
The band toured throughout the Southern states in America in the early 70's, but it was not until the band met, producer Al Kooper that the bands luck changed. (Kooper played and recorded with Bob Dylan when he "went electric”) Shortly after meeting Kooper, the band were signed to MCA records, produced by Kooper himself. The band would go on to record six albums (including a live album) between 1973 and 1977, producing rock classics such as ‘Free Bird’ and ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ (Both Kooper produced).
Tragically in 1977 Ronnie Van Zant and other members of the band died in a plane crash that would eventually spell the end of Lynyrd Skynyrd. The band decided to disband following the tragedy. Lynyrd Skynyrd's legacy will be as a musically innovative southern rock group who's music has stood the test of time, in 2002 "Sweet Home Alabama" was featured on 8 mile (the Movie) featuring Eminem and Kid Rock sampled 'Sweet Home Alabama' for his 2007 hit single “All Summer Long” signifying Lynyrd Skynyrd’s contemporary appeal. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s relevance was futher demonstrated in 2008 when more than 110,000 turned out for a concert (Bama Jam) in Alabama, which prompted Lynyrd Skynyrd to get back in the studio with an autumn 2009 album slated for release.
Segun Murray Ogunsheye
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