Size: 165 MB
Bitrate; 320kbps mp3
Unreleased KBFH Show
Cardiff, Wales, UK
=============== T R A C K L I S T ===============
01. Double Trouble
02. I Ain't The One
03. The Needle and The Spoon
04. Saturday Night Special
05. Gimme Three Steps
06. I Got The Same Old Blues
07. Simple Man
08. Whiskey Rock A Roller
09. Call Me The Breeze
10. T For Texas
11. Sweet Home Alabama
In the summer of 1964, teenage friends Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, and Gary Rossington, formed the band "The Noble Five", which then changed in 1965 to "My Backyard", when Larry Junstrom and Bob Burns joined in Jacksonville, Florida. Their early influences included British Invasion bands such as Free, The Yardbirds, the Rolling Stones, and The Beatles, as well as Southern blues and country & western music. In 1968, the group won a local Battle of the Bands contest and the opening slot on several Southeast shows for the California-based psychedelic rock band Strawberry Alarm Clock.
In 1970, roadie Billy Powell became the keyboardist for the band, and Van Zant sought a new name. "One Percent" and "The Noble Five" were each considered before the group settled on Leonard Skinnerd, a mocking tribute to a gym teacher at Robert E. Lee High School, Leonard Skinner (born 1933), who was notorious for strictly enforcing the school's policy against boys having long hair. The more distinctive spelling was adopted before they released their first album. Despite their high school acrimony, the band developed a more friendly relationship with Skinner in later years, and invited him to introduce them at a concert in the Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum.
The band continued to perform throughout the South in the early 1970s, further developing their hard-driving, blues-rock sound and image. In 1972, Leon Wilkeson replaced Larry Junstrom on bass, but left just before the band was to record its first album (Wilkeson rejoined the band shortly thereafter at Van Zant's invitation). Strawberry Alarm Clock guitarist Ed King filled in as bass player, later switching to guitar after the album's release, allowing the band to replicate the three-guitar mix used in the studio.
In 1970, the band auditioned for Alan Walden who would later become their manager on the newly formed Hustler's Inc. Walden worked with the band until 1974, when management was turned over to Pete Rudge.
Peak years (1973 1977)
In 1972 the band was discovered by musician, songwriter, and producer Al Kooper of Blood, Sweat, and Tears, who had attended one of their shows at a club in Atlanta. They changed the spelling of their name to "Lynyrd Skynyrd", (pronounced 'leh-'n rd 'skin-'n rd) and Kooper signed them to MCA Records, producing their first album the following year "Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd". 1973's featured the hit song "Free Bird", which received national airplay, eventually reaching #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and is still considered a Rock and Roll anthem today.
Lynyrd Skynyrd's fan base continued to grow rapidly throughout 1973, largely due to their opening slot on The Who's Quadrophenia tour in the United States. Their 1974 follow-up, Second Helping, was the band's breakthrough hit, and featured their most popular single, "Sweet Home Alabama" (#8 on the charts in August 1974), a tongue in cheek response to Neil Young's "Alabama" and "Southern Man." (Young and Van Zant were not rivals, but fans of each other's music and good friends; Young even wrote the song "Powderfinger" for the band, but they never recorded it). The album reached #12 in 1974, eventually going multi-platinum. In July of that year, Lynyrd Skynyrd was one of the headline acts at The Ozark Music Festival at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia, Missouri.
In 1974, Burns left the band and was replaced by Kentucky native Artimus Pyle on drums. Lynyrd Skynyrd's third album, Nuthin' Fancy, was released the same year, though guitarist Ed King left midway through the tour. The album has the lowest sales and Kooper was eventually fired. In January 1976, backup singers Leslie Hawkins, Cassie Gaines and JoJo Billingsley (collectively known as The Honkettes) were added to the band. Lynyrd Skynyrd's fourth album Gimme Back My Bullets was released in the new year, but did not achieve the same success as the previous two albums. Van Zant and Collins both felt that the band was seriously missing the three-guitar attack that had been one of its early hallmarks. Although Skynyrd auditioned several guitarists, including such high-profile names as Leslie West, the solution was closer than they realized.
Soon after joining Skynyrd, Cassie Gaines began touting the guitar and songwriting prowess of her younger brother, Steve. The junior Gaines, who led his own band, Crawdad (which occasionally would perform Skynyrd's "Saturday Night Special" in their set), was invited to audition onstage with Skynyrd at a concert in Kansas City on May 11, 1976. Liking what they heard, the group also jammed informally with the Oklahoma native several times, then invited him into the group in June. With Gaines on board, the newly-reconstituted band recorded the double-live album One More From the Road in Atlanta, Georgia, and toured the UK with The Rolling Stones.
Both Collins and Rossington had serious car accidents over Labor Day weekend in 1976 which slowed the recording of the follow-up album and forced the band to cancel some concert dates. Rossington's accident inspired the ominous "That Smell" - a cautionary tale about drug abuse that was clearly aimed towards him and at least one other band member. Rossington has admitted repeatedly that he's the "Prince Charming" of the song who crashed his car into an oak tree while drunk and stoned on Quaaludes. Van Zant, at least, was making a serious attempt to clean up his act and curtail the cycle of boozed-up brawling that was part of Skynyrd's reputation.
1977's Street Survivors turned out to be a showcase for guitarist/vocalist Steve Gaines, who had joined the band just a year earlier and was making his studio debut with them. Publicly and privately, Ronnie Van Zant marveled at the multiple talents of Skynyrd's newest member, claiming that the band would "all be in his shadow one day." Gaines' contributions included his co-lead vocal with Van Zant on the co-written "You Got That Right" and the rousing guitar boogie "I Know A Little" which he had written before he joined Skynyrd. So confident was Skynyrd's leader of Gaines' abilities that the album (and some concerts) featured Gaines delivering his self-penned bluesy "Ain't No Good Life" - the only song in the pre-crash Skynyrd catalog to feature a lead vocalist other than Ronnie Van Zant. The album also included the hit singles "What's Your Name" and "That Smell". The band was poised for their biggest tour yet, including fulfilling Van Zant's lifelong dream of headlining New York's Madison Square Garden.
On Thursday, October 20, 1977, just three days after the release of Street Survivors, and five shows into their most successful headlining tour to date, Lynyrd Skynyrd's chartered Convair 240 developed mechanical difficulties near the end of their flight from Greenville, South Carolina, where they had just performed at the now demolished Greenville Memorial Auditorium, to LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Though the pilots attempted an emergency landing on a small airstrip, the plane crashed in a forest in Gillsburg, Mississippi. Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray were all killed on impact. Medical personnel arrived quickly and began to ferry out the injured and the dead. Victims were taken to the hospital in nearby McComb and Jackson by ambulances and other vehicles. Allen Collins suffered two cracked vertebrae in his neck, and both Collins and Leon Wilkeson nearly had arms amputated as a result of crash injuries. Wilkeson suffered severe internal injuries, including a punctured lung, and had most of his teeth knocked out. Gary Rossington broke both of his arms, his right leg and his pelvis in the crash, as well as sustaining puncture wounds to his stomach and liver, and took many months to recuperate. Leslie Hawkins sustained a concussion (which led to ongoing neurological problems), broke her neck in three places and had severe facial lacerations. Road crew member Steve Lawler suffered severe contusions and facial lacerations. Security manager Gene Odom was seriously burned on his arm and face and lost the sight in one eye as a result of an emergency flare on board the plane that was activated during the crash. Keyboardist Billy Powell's nose was nearly torn off as he suffered severe facial lacerations (as well as deep lacerations to his right knee), and he later caused a controversy by giving a lurid account of Cassie Gaines' final moments on a VH1 Behind The Music special about the band, claiming that the backup singer's throat was cut from ear to ear and that she bled to death in his arms. Powell also claimed that Ronnie Van Zant's head had been smashed. Powell's version of events has been discounted by both Artimus Pyle and Judy Van Zant Jenness, who posted the autopsy reports on the band's website in early 1998 in order to set the record straight. Despite this faux pas, Powell remained on good terms with the remaining band members since the incident, but was castigated in print by Pyle and Van Zant Jenness for needlessly upsetting the Gaines family.
Pyle, the only band member who was ambulatory, crawled out of the plane wreckage with several broken ribs, and hiked some distance from the crash site through swampy woods with road crew members Kenneth Peden, Jr. and Marc Frank. The three injured men finally flagged down farmer Johnny Mote, who had come to investigate. Varying accounts have Mote either firing a warning shot into the air (believing the bedraggled men to be escapees from a nearby penitentiary) or actually shooting Pyle in the shoulder no report is completely reliable. Pyle claimed in a February 2007 appearance on Howard Stern's Sirius radio program that Mote had shot him; Mote has always denied shooting the drummer. Video of a barechested Pyle at the 1979 Volunteer Jam does not show evidence of a gunshot wound. In 1996, Pyle called Mote to thank him for his help after the plane crash.
Notably, the third member of The Honkettes, JoJo Billingsley, was not on the plane and in fact was home sick; she had been planning to join the tour in Little Rock, Arkansas on October 23. Billingsley claimed that she had dreamed of the plane crash and begged Allen Collins by telephone not to continue using the Convair.
The Convair 240 itself had been inspected by members of Aerosmith's flight crew for possible use in the early summer of 1977, but was rejected because it was felt that neither the plane nor the crew were up to standards. Aerosmith's assistant chief of flight operations Zunk Buker tells of seeing pilots McCreary and Gray trading a bottle of Jack Daniel's back and forth while he and his father were inspecting the plane. Aerosmith's touring family was also relieved because the band, specifically Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, had been trying to pressure their management into renting that specific plane.
It was known that the right engine's magneto a small power generator that provides spark and timing for the engine had been malfunctioning (Powell, among others, spoke of seeing flames shooting out of the right engine on a trip just prior to the accident), and that pilots McCreary and Gray had intended to repair the damaged part when the traveling party arrived in Baton Rouge. Cassie Gaines was reportedly so fearful of flying in the Convair that she offered to ride in the band's equipment truck instead; Ronnie Van Zant had talked her onto the airplane on October 20. It is possible that the damaged magneto fooled the pilots into creating an exceptionally rich fuel mixture, causing the Convair to run out of fuel. It was suggested on the VH-1 Behind The Music profile on Skynyrd that the pilots, panicking when the right engine failed, accidentally dumped the remaining fuel. Pyle maintains in the Howard Stern interview that the fuel gauge in the older model plane malfunctioned and the pilots had failed to manually check the tanks before taking off, although it is common practice in all but the largest transport-category aircraft to manually check fuel quantities to verify fuel gauge indications. In his book Lynyrd Skynyrd: Remembering the Free Birds of Southern Rock, Gene Odom makes an unsubstantiated accusation that co-pilot William Gray was impaired because he had spent part of the previous night snorting cocaine; the toxicology reports from both pilots' autopsies had found them to be clean for drugs and alcohol.
Following the crash and the ensuing press, Street Survivors became the band's second platinum album and reached #5 on the U.S. album chart. The single "What's Your Name" reached #13 on the single airplay charts in January 1978.
The original cover sleeve for Street Survivors had featured a photograph of the band, particularly Steve Gaines, engulfed in flames. Out of respect for the deceased (and at the request of Teresa Gaines, Steve's widow), MCA Records withdrew the original cover and replaced it with a similar image of the band against a simple black background . Thirty years later, for the deluxe CD version of Street Survivors, the original "flames" cover was restored.
Lynyrd Skynyrd disbanded after the tragedy, reuniting just once to perform an instrumental version of "Free Bird" at Charlie Daniels' Volunteer Jam in January 1979. Collins, Rossington, Powell and Pyle performed the song with Charlie Daniels and members of his band. Leon Wilkeson, who was still undergoing physical therapy for his badly broken left arm, was in attendance, along with Judy Van Zant, Teresa Gaines, JoJo Billingsley and Leslie Hawkins.