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Legends of Southern Rock: Lynyrd Skynyrd

by Michael Buffalo Smith

SIX DEGREES OF SWAMPLAND:LYNYRD SKYNYRD
(A one page guide for all Swampland articles, interviews, and review about Lynyrd Skynyrd)


The Legends of Southern Rock Series

Lynyrd Skynyrd may very well be the most popular Southern Rock band of all time. After a skyrocketing climb to the top of the charts during the 1970’s, combined with exhaustive touring, the band who named themselves after their high school gym coach Leonard Skinner became a household name in the mid-seventies.

Featuring Gary Rossington, Ed King and Allen Collins on guitars, Leon Wilkeson on bass, Billy Powell on keyboards, Ronnie Van Zant on lead vocals and Bob Burns (replace by Artimus Pyle by their third album) was quickly embraced by fans of a new musical genre called Southern Rock.

Early on, the band was managed by Alan Walden, brother of Capricorn Records mogul Phil Walden. Also pivotal in the band’s early career was Al Kooper, founder of the Sounds of The South music label, and producer of what many consider the band’s finest album, Second Helping.

The band’s 1976 release, One More From The Road, produced by the legendary Tom Dowd, featured a classic rock radio staple, the live version of “Free Bird.”

The band was riding high when they released Street Survivors in the fall of ‘77. Then tragedy struck. As any Southern Rock fan worth his or her salt is all to aware, the band’s airplane crashed after leaving Greenville, SC on October 20, 1977. The iconic lead singer Ronnie Van Zant was killed instantly, as were brother and sister Steve and Cassie Gaines and road manager Dean Kilpatrick. A complete account of the plane crash can be found at Wikipedia.

During the ten years between the plane crash and the reunion tour, various survivors formed The Rossington Collins Band, featuring lead vocalist Dale Krantz. Artimus Pyle formed The Artimus Pyle Band and recorded two albums for MCA. Allen Collins formed The Allen Collins Band. Tragedy struck again when Collins was involved in an auto accident that killed his girlfriend and left him paralyzed.

In 1987, following an appearance at Charlie Daniels’ Volunteer Jam, Lynyrd Skynyrd reunited for a full-scale tour with crash survivors Gary Rossington, Billy Powell, Leon Wilkeson and Artimus Pyle ,former guitarist Ed King .Ronnie Van Zant's younger brother, Johnny, took over as the new lead singer and primary songwriter. Due to Collins' paralysis, he was only able to participate as the musical director, choosing Randall Hall, his former bandmate in the Allen Collins Band, as his stand-in. Collins was struck with pneumonia in 1989 and died on January 23, 1990.

Lynyrd Skynyrd has gone through a number of  lineup changes since that original reunion. Leon Wilkeson, Skynyrd's bassist since 1972, died of lung and liver failure on July 27, 2001.

In the beginning of 2005 Hughie Thomasson left the band to pursue other musical opportunities. On May 10, 2005 Johnny and Donnie Van Zant released a country album called Get Right With The Man which featured the hit single "Help Somebody".

In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked the group #95 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

On November 28, 2005, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced that Lynyrd Skynyrd would be inducted on March 13, 2006. Lynyrd Skynyrd had been nominated seven times.

In May 2006 Lynyrd Skynyrd added Mark “Sparky” Matejka, a former guitarist with The Charlie Daniels Band to take the place of Hughie Thomasson.

Summer of 2007 finds the band on the “Rowdy Friends” Tour with Hank Williams, Jr. October, 2007 will mark the 30th anniversary of the airplane crash that changed rock and roll history forever.


The Legends of Southern Rock Series


Lynyrd Skynyrd Line-Ups

Lynyrd Skynyrd
(1964 - 1970)    

    * Ronnie Van Zant - lead vocals
    * Gary Rossington - guitar
    * Allen Collins - guitar
    * Larry Junstrom - bass
    * Bob Burns - drums

Lynyrd Skynyrd
(1971)    

    * Ronnie Van Zant - lead vocals
    * Gary Rossington - guitar
    * Allen Collins - guitar
    * Greg T. Walker - bass (for a short period of time, then left to form Blackfoot with Rickey Medlocke)
    * Rickey Medlocke - drums (for a short period, then left to form Blackfoot as the lead singer and lead guitarist)
    * Bob Burns - drums (Skynyrd had two drummers for a short period)

 


Lynyrd Skynyrd
(1972 - 1973)    

    * Ronnie Van Zant - lead vocals
    * Gary Rossington - guitar
    * Allen Collins - guitar
    * Leon Wilkeson - bass, backing vocals
    * Bob Burns - drums
    * Billy Powell - piano

Lynyrd Skynyrd
(1973 - 1974)    

    * Ronnie Van Zant - lead vocals
    * Gary Rossington - guitar
    * Allen Collins - guitar
    * Leon Wilkeson - bass, backing vocals (leaves group and soon rejoins)
    * Ed King - bass/guitar (joins group on bass,switches to guitar when Wilkeson returns)
    * Bob Burns - drums
    * Billy Powell - keyboards

Lynyrd Skynyrd
(1974 - 1975)    

    * Ronnie Van Zant - lead vocals
    * Gary Rossington - guitar
    * Allen Collins - guitar
    * Ed King - guitar
    * Leon Wilkeson - bass, backing vocals
    * Artimus Pyle - drums
    * Billy Powell - keyboards

 


Lynyrd Skynyrd
(1975 - 1976)    

    * Ronnie Van Zant - lead vocals
    * Gary Rossington - guitar
    * Allen Collins - guitar
    * Leon Wilkeson - bass, backing vocals
    * Artimus Pyle - drums
    * Billy Powell - keyboards
    * The Honkettes (JoJo Billingsley, Cassie Gaines, Leslie Hawkins) - backing vocals

Lynyrd Skynyrd
(1976 - 1977)    

    * Ronnie Van Zant - lead vocals
    * Gary Rossington - guitar
    * Allen Collins - guitar
    * Steve Gaines - guitar, backing vocals
    * Leon Wilkeson - bass, backing vocals
    * Artimus Pyle - drums
    * Billy Powell - keyboards
    * The Honkettes (JoJo Billingsley, Cassie Gaines, Leslie Hawkins) - backing vocals

Lynyrd Skynyrd
(1987 - 1990)    

    * Johnny Van Zant - lead vocals
    * Gary Rossington - guitar
    * Billy Powell - keyboards
    * Randall Hall - guitar, backing vocals
    * Ed King - guitar
    * Leon Wilkeson - bass, backing vocals
    * Artimus Pyle - drums

Lynyrd Skynyrd
(1990 - 1991)    

    * Johnny Van Zant - lead vocals
    * Gary Rossington - guitar
    * Billy Powell - keyboards
    * Ed King - guitar
    * Leon Wilkeson - bass, backing vocals
    * Artimus Pyle - drums
    * Randall Hall - guitar, backing vocals
    * Kurt Custer - drums

Lynyrd Skynyrd
(1991 - 1993)    

    * Johnny Van Zant - lead vocals
    * Gary Rossington - guitar
    * Billy Powell - keyboards
    * Randall Hall - guitar, backing vocals
    * Ed King - guitar
    * Leon Wilkeson - bass, backing vocals
    * Kurt Custer - drums

Lynyrd Skynyrd
(1993 - 1994)    

    * Johnny Van Zant - lead vocals
    * Gary Rossington - guitar
    * Ed King - guitar
    * Mike Estes - guitar
    * Leon Wilkeson - bass, backing vocals
    * Billy Powell - keyboards
    * Kurt Custer - drums

Lynyrd Skynyrd
(1994 - 1996)    

    * Johnny Van Zant - lead vocals
    * Gary Rossington - guitar
    * Billy Powell - keyboards
    * Ed King - guitar
    * Mike Estes - guitar
    * Leon Wilkeson - bass, backing vocals
    * Owen Hale - drums

Lynyrd Skynyrd
(1996 - 1998)    

    * Johnny Van Zant - lead vocals
    * Gary Rossington - guitar
    * Billy Powell - keyboards
    * Rickey Medlocke - guitar, backing vocals
    * Hughie Thomasson - guitar, backing vocals
    * Leon Wilkeson - bass, backing vocals
    * Owen Hale - drums

Lynyrd Skynyrd
(1998 - 1999)    

    * Johnny Van Zant - lead vocals
    * Gary Rossington - guitar
    * Billy Powell - keyboards
    * Rickey Medlocke - guitar, backing vocals
    * Hughie Thomasson - guitar, backing vocals
    * Leon Wilkeson - bass, backing vocals
    * Jeff McAllister - drums

Lynyrd Skynyrd
(1999)    

    * Johnny Van Zant - lead vocals
    * Gary Rossington - guitar
    * Billy Powell - keyboards
    * Rickey Medlocke - guitar, backing vocals
    * Hughie Thomasson - guitar, backing vocals
    * Leon Wilkeson - bass, backing vocals
    * Kenny Aronoff - drums

Lynyrd Skynyrd
(1999 - 2001)    

    * Johnny Van Zant - lead vocals
    * Gary Rossington - guitar
    * Billy Powell - keyboards
    * Rickey Medlocke - guitar, backing vocals
    * Hughie Thomasson - guitar, backing vocals
    * Leon Wilkeson - bass, backing vocals
    * Michael Cartellone - drums

Lynyrd Skynyrd
(2001 - 2005)    

    * Johnny Van Zant - lead vocals
    * Gary Rossington - guitar
    * Billy Powell - keyboards
    * Rickey Medlocke - guitar, backing vocals
    * Hughie Thomasson - guitar, backing vocals
    * Ean Evans - bass, backing vocals
    * Michael Cartellone - drums

Lynyrd Skynyrd
(2005 - 2006)    

    * Johnny Van Zant - lead vocals
    * Gary Rossington - guitar
    * Billy Powell - keyboards
    * Rickey Medlocke - guitar, backing vocals
    * Ean Evans - bass, backing vocals
    * Michael Cartellone - drums

Lynyrd Skynyrd
(March 13, 2006 - One Performance, Hall of Fame)    

    * Johnny Van Zant - lead vocals
    * Gary Rossington - guitar
    * Ed King - guitar
    * Bob Burns - drums on "Sweet Home Alabama," percussion on "Freebird"
    * Artimus Pyle - percussion on "Sweet Home Alabama," drums on "Freebird"
    * Billy Powell - keyboards
    * Rickey Medlocke - guitar
    * Ean Evans - bass
    * The Honkettes (JoJo Billingsley, Leslie Hawkins) with Dale Krantz Rossington and Carol Chase- Backing vocals

Lynyrd Skynyrd
(2006 - present)    

    * Johnny Van Zant - lead vocals
    * Gary Rossington - guitar
    * Billy Powell - keyboards
    * Rickey Medlocke - guitar, backing vocals
    * Mark Matejka - guitar, backing vocals
    * Ean Evans - bass, backing vocals
    * Michael Cartellone - drums
    * Dale Krantz Rossington, Carol Chase - backing vocals

In Memory of Ronnie Van Zant; We All Miss You Brother.

 


The Legends of Southern Rock Series

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