There’s a reason why “Free Bird” was named as GRITZ best loved Southern Rock song in history. Actually, there are a lot of reasons.
Every 15 seconds, someone, somewhere in the world is listening to a Lynyrd Skynyrd Song. 60 percent of the time, that song is “Free Bird.”
“Free Bird” is the most played and most requested song in classic rock radio history, topping even “Stairway to Heaven.”
Rolling Stone magazine ranked it the 191st greatest song in 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Personally, I would like to challenge that ranking.
“Free Bird” made the charts on numerous occasions in both the U.S. and UK but only reached #19 in the U.S. Billboard charts.
The song was written by Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zant in 1970
The opening verse, "If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?" was inspired by Allen Collins' girlfriend who had asked him the question during a fight.
Allman Brothers Band guitarist Duane Allman died around the same time “Free Bird” was released. Skynyrd sometimes dedicated it to Allman at concerts, but it was written long before his death, so rumors thgat it was written about Duane are false. The double guitar solo at the end is the same style as many early Allman Brothers songs on which Duane played.
First recorded as a demo for Shade Tree Records, 1970, “Free Bird” was recorded again around the same time at Quinvy Studios in Muscle Shoals (Jimmy Johnson producing). The song appears on the band’s debut Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd clocking in at 9:18. In 1976 appeared on the double live album One More from the Road, timing out at 14:25, which later prompted the Drive By Truckers on their epic Southern Rock Opera to say “It’s a very- long- song.”
The slow ballad moving into an intense Southern Rock jam ending concept inspired other bands to write songs like “Green Grass and High Tides,” and “Highway Song.”
It’s the only song in the band’s catalog that has been played at every single Lynyrd Skynyrd concert since they took the Skynyrd name.
The conductor of the Charleston (SC) Symphony Orchestra, David Stahl, irritated by outbursts of "Free Bird!" at concerts, had the orchestra learn to perform the song so that they could go directly into it from whatever piece they were performing at the moment.
Cover Versions: The band Will To Power scored a minor hit in 1988 with a medley of “Free Bird” and Peter Frampton's "Baby, I Love Your Way;” In 1994, a cover version was recorded by country music artist Wynonna; also doing "Free Bird," progressive metal band Dream Theater; Mexican rock duo, Rodrigo y Gabriela (played on acoustic guitars with nylon strings); Phish, done acappela, including the guitar solo; Kid Rock; Built to Spill; The Charlie Daniels Band; Tally Hall; The California Guitar Trio; Dash Rip Rock (a parody mashup of "Freebird" and Led Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven" titled "Stairway To Freebird"); the punk band Towers of London; Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time released an awesome bluegrass version on 2004’s Lonesome Skynyrd Time.
In the 1980s, Chicago Radio DJ Kevin Matthews urged his listeners to shout "Free Bird!" at a Florence Henderson concert as a sort of joke towards the musician and actress. Credited with starting the tradition of yelling "Free Bird!," but not actually doing so, he stated that "It was never meant to be yelled at a cool concert -- it was meant to be yelled at someone really lame. If you're going to yell “Free Bird,” yell “Free Bird” at a Jim Nabors concert.
An eternal hit. An iconic Southern Rock anthem. This bird you’ll never change.
Keep it Real. Keep it Southern.