Lynyrd Skynyrd — I Know a Little
Lynyrd Skynyrd is one of the most successful Southern Rock groups of the 1970’s. They endeared themselves to the common average American working class in the blue-collar town of Jacksonville.
The band got its name from their high school coach, Leonard Skinner, who enforced the school’s strict dress code. The members got written up many times by their coach and were sent to the Principal’s office for punishment. During a gig one night, the band jokingly announced to the audience that their name was Leonard Skinner. They changed the spelling, added a few «y’s so as not to get in trouble, and became Lynyrd Skynyrd.
In 1972, Producer, Al Kooper, was so impressed with the band’s performance during a gig one night at a club in Atlanta that he signed them to MCA Records. Their first album was produced in 1973 and featured «Free Bird». This album encapsulated the genre of southern rock and in fact defined the style that would proliferate throughout the world. This band clearly influenced many of the following, including The Outlaws, Blackfoot, and the Marshall Tucker Band.
The band’s breakthrough hit, was 1974’s Sweet Home Alabama, from their «Second Helping’ album». It reached the 8 th spot on the charts in August of 1974. It was an answer to Neil Young’s «Southern Man». Neil Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd were not rivals and actually considered collaboration at one time.
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s sixth album, Street Survivors (the band’s second platinum album), was released in October, 1977. It was #5 in the top selling albums and the single, «What’s Your Name» hit #13 on the airplay charts in January, 1978. The song, «I Know a Little,» was released off this album, and is one of the more popular tunes Skynard recorded. It features a ripping guitar solo backed up by a Southern Rock/Texas Swing beat. The «I Know a Little guitar lick» between verses is a signature riff for the song - instantly recognizable even by casual Southern Rock fans. Street Survivors was to be the final album released by the original members. It also contained a song called, «That Smell», possibly the best composition on the album.
On October 20, 1977, tragedy struck when the band’s chartered airplane, low on fuel, crashed in a Mississippi swamp. Six people on the plane perished, including the group’s founder, Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist-vocalist, Steve Gaines. Ironically, Street Survivors’ original cover pictured the whole band surrounded by flames. MCA quickly replaced that cover with a similar picture of the band against a plain black background.
After the airplane tragedy, the group disbanded, but their timeless music continues to ensure that the band will live for a long time to come.