Lynyrd Skynyrd: The Southern Rock Phenomenon?
Hailed by many as purely a southern rock band, Lynyrd Skynyrd was not only a success outside the Deep South but gained widespread popularity throughout the country in the 1970’s. Yes, of course much of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s style and sound evolved from there southern roots but that is not strictly who they were or what solely influenced them. After all, it is very difficult to be inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame if all you appeal to is a very small sect of the music market(Sullivan 1).
To fully understand the band we must first find out who they are and what made them Lynyrd Skynyrd. The band formerly called “My Backyard,” was formed in the summer of 1964 by four teenage friends, Ronnie Van Zant, Gary Rossington, Larry Junstrom, and Bob Burns. Early on the band was influenced by Southern Blues along with country and western music. However, the band also attributes its sound to much of the earlier British bands of the British Invasion, such as The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and Free. The band was later renamed to Lynyrd Skynyrd as a tribute to there gym teacher at Robert E. Lee High School, a Mr. Leonard Skinner. In 1972 the band was signed to MCA Records by Al Kooper after they impressed him at a club in Atlanta called Funocchio’s. Kooper later went on to produce their first album called (pronounced 'lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd) which featured the hit songs “Free Bird”, Gimme Three Steps”, and “Simple Man”. The album went multi-platinum in 1973. Their next album Second Helping debuted in 1974 and featured the bands most popular song to date ”Sweet Home Alabama”. Second Helping went multi-platinum in 1974 reaching #12 on the charts. Later, in 1976 Lynyrd Skynyrd released its third album Gimme Back My Bullets but did not reach the same success as the other two. Sadly on October 20, 1977 a charter plane carrying Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and Cassie Gaines crashed killing all three. The band...
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