Lynyrd Skynyrd – 45 Years Ago Today

As I was writing my Jimmy Page post today… I noticed the date and knew I had to add this.

It’s been 45 years since Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane crashed in a swamp in Gillsburg, Mississippi. The band had just released the album “Street Survivors” and it was probably their best well-rounded album. With new guitarist Steve Gaines, they were primed for commercial success but on October 20, 1977, they lost singer-songwriter Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, backup singer Cassie Gaines, and road manager Dean Kilpatrick. The plane crash also claimed the lives of pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray Jr.

I believe that if the crash had not happened they would have moved into the most successful stretch of their career. They were leaving the “southern rock” label behind and into one of the top rock bands in the world.

A year earlier Steve Gaines joined the band and he was pushing them in directions they never had gone. Listening to “Street Survivors” you can hear his influence with the songs I Never Dreamed and I Know A Little. Steve was a super-talented guitarist, songwriter, and singer and I have to wonder where his career would have gone.

On this tour, they were headlining and moving up in status after years of touring as mostly an opening band.

Below is a good Rolling Stone article on the crash. The song below that is “I Never Dreamed,” a song heavily influenced by Gaines.

Image result for lynyrd skynyrd 1977


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

30 thoughts on “Lynyrd Skynyrd – 45 Years Ago Today”

  1. I think it’s so creepy how the song That Smell was on this album cuz the lyrics said “the smell of death surrounds you”, and then you-know-what happened. That always freaked me out.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That was creepy and also the cover that had them in flames.
      Yea and it was such a needless thing to happen…they ran out of gas…I mean really?


  2. They are a talented group of musicians. Listening to, “I Never Dreamed” makes me appreciate the bells and whistles of their music. So difficult to believe it’s been 45 years already.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. the so-called Rock & Roll Heaven would have a helluva band (to borrow from the Righteous Brothers) even if it only consisted of those who died in plane crashes. Quite tragic… and ridiculous too. How did they manage to run out of fuel, what 100 miles short of their destination?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That plane was all sorts of problems…I’ve read where they checked the gas with a stick! Aerosmith turned the plane down…well their management did.
      Peter Rudge was cheap and his ways probably indirectly caused this.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. that is beyond crazy! A case of where big lawsuits would be in order if that’s true. It reminds me of a Malcolm Gladwell piece in ‘one of his books, where he describes a plane crash from a Colombian jet off NYC that ran out of gas… the real root cause seemed to be basically the crew was Colombian. In their culture, apparently they have total respect for authority and the asst. pilot wouldn’t speak up to really make the pilot take action and was far too vague in his messages to flight control to contradict them when they kept telling them to circle around. Makes some of the long Greyhound trips I’ve taken seem better choices!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yea it was true and yes there lawsuits because the pilots came with the plane from the leasing agency. They settled but yes a lot of money changed hands. The leasing company tried to blame the band but the band are not pilots or plane people…
        That is terrible about the Colombian story.


  4. Wow! Of course I knew it was 1977 … but just when you say 45 years ago! Seems no time at all. The gigs; playing their music in my bedroom; their live show on OGWT – just like yesterday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was 10 when it happened…I remember it but I didn’t know much about them.
      That is so cool lthat you got to see the real version of them. The UK really liked them a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a crazy and brutal tragedy. Frankly, I didn’t know the crash happened because the plane run out of fuel – that’s just nuts! From that album (btw how bitterly ironic is the title “Street Survivors”!), I’m best familiar with the first two tracks, “What’s Your Name” and “That Smell”. I don’t think I had heard “I Never Dreamed” before – great tune!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They never played I Never Dreamed live….but I love that song…the guitar work by Gaines was incredible.
      I just wonder what kind of career Steve Gaines would have had. He was up there in the league with the great guitarists.


      1. Yea I’ve seen them 3 times during the 80s and 90s…I saw them on the 10th anniversary. Funny thing is I was given tickets to all of them by different people.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You seem to know the right people, Max! 🙂

        I’ve only seen Skynyrd once in June 2018 during their so called “Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour”. It looks like that tour has morphed into the “Big Wheels Keep On Turnin’ Tour” – sort of like Deep Purple’s “Long Goodbye Tour”! 🙂

        Even though Gary Rossington was the only founding member who was left, I thought it was a great show. Johnny Van Zant did a nice job. Obviously, replacing Ronnie means big shoes to fill! Then again, obviously, he had done it since 1977, more than 3 times longer than his older brother – kind of mind boggling!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh it’s a good show and they get the songs right I have to admit. They have carried it out longer than I would have thought. I like that they don’t try to change anything…they keep it tight just like the record.


  6. I wish I could have read that whole RT article without having to subscribe. It looked fascinating especially about the wears of the plane… Oh well. Such a sad moment in contemporary music history. Thanks for posting this Max in memory to this great band, which could have been one of the greatest of all.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: