Lynyrd Skynyrd — Sweet Home Alabama

With its unique, triple-lead guitar sound, Lynyrd Skynyrd is one of the most successful Southern Rock groups of the 1970’s. Their sound was nurtured in the blue-collar town of Jacksonville, where they endeared themselves to the common average American working class.

The band got its name out of the necessity to respell their high school coach’s name, Leonard Skinner, to protect the young band from getting into more trouble due to violations of the school dress code. 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 attended a performance of the band at a club in Atlanta and signed them to MCA Records because he was so impressed with their performance. 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.

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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. 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

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