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Biography

Lynyrd Skynyrd was formed in 1965 by Ronnie Van Zant, Gary Rossington, Allen Collins, and Bob Burns. The band took their name from high school gym teacher Leonard Skinner, who had repeatedly suspended Rossington and Burns for their long hair. After playing clubs across the south, they were finally discovered by legendary musician Al Kooper , who got them a record deal with MCA. Kooper produced their first album, Pronounced Leh'nerd Skin' nerd, which appeared on record shelves in 1973. It contained the legendary "Free Bird", which was dedicated to late Allman Brothers Band members Duane Allman & Berry Oakley. Although "Free Bird" became popular on FM stations, the band did not taste nationwide success until the release of "Sweet Home Alabama", one of the many highlights of the band's second LP, Second Helping. The song, with its controversial references to George Wallace and the Watergate scandal, made Skynyrd national superstars. A string of successful albums followed, capped by their strongest release ever, Street Survivors, released on October 17, 1977. Three days later, on October 20, the bands private plane crashed in the woods near McCombs, MS. Band members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines, and road manager Dean Kilpatrick all died on impact. The Lynyrd Skynyrd Band seemed to be history.

After healing their wounds, several Skynyrd members reunited in the Rossington-Collins Band. They released two albums in the eary '80s before splitting up. Tragedy struck again soon after, when guitarist Allen Collins was involved in an autombile accident which killed his girlfriend and paralyzed him from the waste down. Sadly, he passed away in 1990 of complications resulting from the paralyzation. In 1987, Lynyrd Skynyrd finally reunited for a 10th anniversery tribute tour. Taking the place of lead singer Ronnie Van Zant was his younger brother Johnny. The band was originally just going to play one tour, but after enormous crowd response & attendance, a full fledged reunion occured. The band recorded Lynyrd Skynyrd 1991 in 1991 for Atlantic Records and one thing was clear: Skynyrd was back with a vengeance. Albums The Last Rebel, and the all acoustic Endangered Species followed soon after. With the addition of legendary southern rock guitarists Hughie Thomasson (formerly of the Outlaws) and Rickey Medlocke (formerly of Blackfoot and himself a former drummer for Skynyrd), the band release Twenty one of their strongest records ever. Skynyrd followed that up with the live album Lyve From Steel Town, a strong showing which left no doubt that the spirit of Lynyrd Skynyrd was alive and well. In 1999, Skynyrd released another new album, Edge Of Forever, and ended the millennium on tour with ZZ Top.