Lynyrd Skynyrd could have turned out to be the band that wasn’t if they didn’t have at least some kind of luck in the face of terrible tragedy. The band chartered a Convair 240 plane in Texas. They were going on a national tour which promised to be their biggest yet. So on October 20, 1977, they got on board for a flight from Greenville, South Carolina to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Unfortunately, they never made it to their destination. The plane crashed into a heavily wooded area in southeastern Mississippi. The resulting crash killed band members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and Cassie Gaines along with the band’s assistant road manager and the pilot and co-pilot. There were 20 survivors.
The original band members first came together in 1964 as teenagers in Jacksonville, Florida. At that time they called themselves My Backyard. They played through the 1960s and early 1970s. It was in 1973 that they got national recognition and took the name Lynyrd Skynrd in honor of a high school gym teacher whose name was Leonard Skinner. Their debut album was a great success featuring the well-known song “Free Bird”. Their second album Second Helping in 1974 brought about one of their greatest hits “Sweet Home Alabama” which made them the giants of southern rock.
Shortly before the accident, they released their fifth studio album Street Survivor which later was certified double-platinum. The album included two singles “What’s Your Name” and “You Got That Right.”
Then came the tragedy but the band eventually rose above all and went on to triumph and continued to play on. They went on a reunion tour in 1987. Altogether they have sold 28 million records in the U.S. and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.
They released their fourteenth studio album Last of a Dyin’ Breed in 2012.