Anniversary of Lynyrd Skynyrd Tragedy

10/20/2011
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(Gibson) On this day in 1977, Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines of Lynyrd Skynyrd were all killed along with manager Dean Kilpatrick when their rented plane ran out of fuel and crashed into a densely wooded thicket in the middle of a swamp in Gillsburg, Missouri. The crash seriously injured the rest of the band and crew, who were due to play at Louisiana University that evening. Gibson takes a look back:

Discovered in 1973, by producer and one-time Dylan keyboards wiz Al Kooper, Lynyrd Skynyrd were at their creative and commercial peak in October 1977, the year that a plane crash tragedy almost ended the band forever.

Already responsible for American rock standards like "Freebird," "Simple Man" and "Sweet Home Alabama," the band were part of rock and roll royalty, reigning supreme at Knebworth in 1976. They had added the prodigiously talented guitarist Steve Gaines and released another huge album, Street Survivors, containing the monster hit "What's Your Name."

Their new tour was the biggest and best yet. Five shows into the tour they played the Greenville Memorial Auditorium in Greenville. On their way to Baton Rouge the next day, October 20, 1977, the pilot of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Convair 240 airplane radioed that the plane was perilously low on fuel. Passengers and crew would fly for just 10 more minutes before crashing into a heavily wooded area in the middle of a swamp in Gillsburg, Mississippi. more on this story

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