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What's Your Name (Lynyrd Skynyrd album)

What’s Your Name (Lynyrd Skynyrd album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on, now,
‘Cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see.
But, if I stayed here with you, girl,
Things just couldn’t be the same.
‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now,
And this bird you can not change.
Oh… oh… oh… oh… oh…
And the bird you cannot change.
And this bird you cannot change.
Lord knows I can’t change.

Bye, bye, baby it’s been a sweet love.
Yea, yea
Though this feeling I can’t change.
But please don’t take it so badly,

 


‘Cause the lord knows I’m to blame.
But, if I stayed here with you girl,
Things just couldn’t be the same.
Cause I’m as free as a bird now,
And this bird you can not change.
Oh… oh… oh… oh… oh…
And this bird you cannot change.
And this bird you cannot change.
Lord knows, I can’t change.
Lord help me, I can’t change.
Lord I can’t change,
Won’t you fly high free bird yea.

Lynyrd Skynyrd Freebird

 

Lynyrd Skynyrd (pronounced /ˌlɛnərd ˈskɪnərd/ len-ərd-skin-ərd) is an American rock band best known for popularizing theSouthern hard rock genre during the 1970s. Originally formed in 1964 as the “Noble Five” in Jacksonville, Florida, the band rose to worldwide recognition on the basis of its driving live performances and signature tunes “Sweet Home Alabama,” and “Free Bird.” At the peak of their success, three members died in an airplane crash in 1977, putting an abrupt end to the band’s most popular incarnation.

Surviving members re-formed in 1987 for a reunion tour with lead singer Ronnie Van Zant‘s younger brother Johnny as frontman. A version of the band continues to tour and record, with only Gary Rossington of its original members remaining as of 2012. Lynyrd Skynyrd was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 13, 2006.[1]

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[edit]History

[edit]Early years

In the summer of 1964, teenage friends Ronnie Van ZantAllen Collins, and Gary Rossington formed the band “The Noble Five” inJacksonville, Florida. The band changed in 1965 to “My Backyard”, when Larry Junstrom and Bob Burns joined. In 1968, the group won a local Battle of the Bands contest and the opening slot on several Southeast shows for the California-based psychedelic rockband Strawberry Alarm Clock.[citation needed]

In 1970, Van Zant sought a new name. “One Percent” and “The Noble Five” were each considered before the group settled on “Leonard Skinner”, a mocking tribute to a physical-education teacher at Robert E. Lee High SchoolLeonard Skinner,[2] who was notorious for strictly enforcing the school’s policy against boys having long hair.[3][4] Rossington dropped out of school, tired of being hassled about his hair.[5] The more-distinctive spelling was adopted before they released their first album. Despite their high school acrimony, the band developed a friendlier relationship with Skinner in later years, and invited him to introduce them at a concert in the Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum.[6] Skinner also allowed the band to use a photo of his Leonard Skinner Realty sign for the inside of their third album.[7]

In 1970, the band auditioned for Alan Walden, who would later become their manager on the newly-formed Hustler’s Inc. Walden worked with the band until 1974, when management was turned over to Pete Rudge. The band continued to perform throughout the South in the early 1970s, further developing their hard-driving, blues-rock sound and image, and experimenting with making studio recordings.

During this time, the band experienced some lineup changes for the first time. Junstrom left and was briefly replaced by Greg T. Walker on bass. At the same time, Ricky Medlockejoined as a second drummer. Some versions of the band’s history also have Burns leaving the band for a short time during this period of time. The band played some shows with both Burns and Medlocke participating, utilizing a dual-drummer approach similar to that of The Allman Brothers. In 1971, they made some recordings at the famous Muscle Shoals Sound Studio with Walker and Medlocke serving as the rhythm section, without the participation of Burns. Medlocke grew up with the founding members of Lynyrd Skynyrd. When Blackfoot’s attempts to move north and play New York and New Jersey were not successful enough for him, he called up Ronnie Van Zant and was asked to play drums for Lynyrd Skynyrd. Medlocke and Walker did not appear on any album until 1978, when came out “First and… Last“, which collected the band’s recordings in the biennium 1971-1972. This album was considered essential by most fans.

Medlocke and Walker left the band to play with another southern rock band, Blackfoot, and when the band made a second round of Muscle Shoals recordings in 1972, Burns was featured on drums and Leon Wilkeson was Larry Junstrom’s permanent replacement on bass. Also in 1972, roadie Billy Powell became the keyboardist for the band.

[edit]Peak years (1973–1977)

In 1972 the band (now Van Zant, Collins, Rossington, Burns, Wilkeson, and Powell) was discovered by musician, songwriter, and producer Al Kooper of Blood, Sweat, and Tears, who had attended one of their shows at a club in Atlanta, GA. They changed the spelling of their name to “Lynyrd Skynyrd”[8] (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd). and Kooper signed them to his Sounds of the South label that was to be distributed and supported by MCA Records, producing their first album. Leon Wilkeson temporarily left the band during the early recording sessions for the album only playing on two tracks. Wilkeson rejoined the band shortly after the album’s release at Van Zant’s invitation and is pictured on the album cover.[citation needed] Strawberry Alarm Clock guitarist Ed King joined the band and played bass on the album, (the only part which Wilkeson had already written being the solo section in “Simple Man“), along with some guitar. King stayed in the band and switched to guitar after the album’s release, allowing the band to replicate the three-guitar mix used in the studio for their live performances. Released August 13, 1973,[9] the album featured the hit song “Free Bird,” which received national airplay, eventually reaching No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

Ronnie Van Zant

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s fan base continued to grow rapidly throughout 1973, largely due to their opening slot on The Who‘s Quadrophenia tour in the United States. On their 1974 follow-up, Second Helping, the band successfully avoided any sophomore slump, with King, Collins and Rossington all collaborating with Van Zant on the songwriting. The album was the band’s breakthrough hit, and featured their most popular single, “Sweet Home Alabama” (#8 on the charts in August 1974), a response to Neil Young‘s “Alabama” and “Southern Man“. (Young and Van Zant were not rivals, but fans of each other’s music and good friends; Young even wrote the song “Powderfinger” for the band, but they never recorded it.[10] Van Zant, meanwhile, can be seen on the cover of Street Survivors wearing a Neil Young t-shirt.) The album reached No. 12 in 1974, eventually going multi-platinum. In July of that year, Lynyrd Skynyrd was one of the headline acts at TheOzark Music Festival at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia, Missouri.

In January 1975, Burns left the band and was replaced by Kentucky native Artimus Pyle on drums. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s third album, Nuthin’ Fancy, was released the same year. The album had lower sales than its predecessor. Kooper and the band parted by mutual agreement after the raucous recording of the LP. Kooper was left with the tapes to complete the mix before release. Midway through the tour, Ed King left the band, citing tour exhaustion. In January 1976, backup singers Leslie HawkinsCassie Gaines and JoJo Billingsley(collectively known as The Honkettes) were added to the band, although they were not considered official members. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s fourth album Gimme Back My Bullets was released in the new year, but did not achieve the same success as the previous two albums. Van Zant and Collins both felt that the band was seriously missing the three-guitar attack that had been one of its early hallmarks. Although Skynyrd auditioned several guitarists, including such high-profile names as Leslie West, the solution was closer than they realized.

Soon after joining Skynyrd, Cassie Gaines began touting the guitar and songwriting prowess of her younger brother, Steve. The junior Gaines, who led his own band, Crawdad (which occasionally would perform Skynyrd’s “Saturday Night Special” in their set), was invited to audition onstage with Skynyrd at a concert in Kansas City on May 11, 1976. Liking what they heard, the group also jammed informally with the Oklahoma native several times, then invited him into the group in June. With Gaines on board, the newly-reconstituted band recorded the double-live album One More From the Road at the Fox Theatre (Atlanta, Georgia) in Atlanta, and performed at theKnebworth festival, which also featured The Rolling Stones.

Both Collins and Rossington had serious car accidents over Labor Day weekend in 1976 which slowed the recording of the follow-up album and forced the band to cancel some concert dates. Rossington’s accident inspired the ominous “That Smell” – a cautionary tale about drug abuse that was clearly aimed towards him and at least one other band member. Rossington has admitted repeatedly that he was the “Prince Charming” of the song who crashed his car into an oak tree while drunk and stoned on Quaaludes. Van Zant, at least, was making a serious attempt to clean up his act and curtail the cycle of boozed-up brawling that was part of Skynyrd’s reputation.

1977’s Street Survivors turned out to be a showcase for guitarist/vocalist Steve Gaines, who had joined the band just a year earlier and was making his studio debut with them. Publicly and privately, Ronnie Van Zant marveled at the multiple talents of Skynyrd’s newest member, claiming that the band would “all be in his shadow one day.” Gaines’ contributions included his co-lead vocal with Van Zant on the co-written “You Got That Right” and the rousing guitar boogie “I Know A Little” which he had written before he joined Skynyrd. So confident was Skynyrd’s leader of Gaines’ abilities that the album (and some concerts) featured Gaines delivering his self-penned bluesy “Ain’t No Good Life” – the only song in the pre-crash Skynyrd catalog to feature a lead vocalist other than Ronnie Van Zant. The album also included the hit singles “What’s Your Name” and “That Smell“. The band was poised for their biggest tour yet, with shows always highlighted by the iconic rock anthem “Free Bird”.[11] In November, the band was scheduled to fulfill Van Zant’s lifelong dream of headlining New York’s Madison Square Garden.

The song “Freebird” in the movie “Freebird the Movie” was actually filmed on July 2, 1977 at the Oakland Coliseum and not on July 4 as stated by Bill Graham and listed in the credits.[citation needed]

[edit]Plane crash (1977)

On October 20, 1977, just three days after the release of Street Survivors, and five shows into their most successful headlining tour to date, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s chartered Convair CV-300 ran out of fuel near the end of their flight from Greenville, South Carolina, where they had just performed at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium, to LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Though the pilots attempted an emergency landing on a small airstrip, the plane crashed in a forest in Gillsburg, Mississippi.[12] Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray were killed on impact; the other band members (Collins, Rossington, Wilkeson, Powell, Pyle, and Hawkins) tour manager, Ron Eckerman [13] and road crew suffered serious injuries.

Following the crash and the ensuing press, Street Survivors became the band’s second platinum album and reached No. 5 on the U.S. album chart. The single “What’s Your Name” reached No. 13 on the single airplay charts in January 1978.

The original cover sleeve for Street Survivors had featured a photograph of the band, particularly Steve Gaines, engulfed in flames. Out of respect for the deceased (and at the request of Teresa Gaines, Steve’s widow), MCA Records withdrew the original cover and replaced it with a similar image of the band against a simple black background.[14] Thirty years later, for the deluxe CD version of Street Survivors, the original “flames” cover was restored.

Lynyrd Skynyrd disbanded after the tragedy, reuniting just once to perform an instrumental version of “Free Bird” at Charlie Daniels’ Volunteer Jam V in January 1979. Collins, Rossington, Powell and Pyle performed the song with Charlie Daniels and members of his band. Leon Wilkeson, who was still undergoing physical therapy for his badly broken left arm, was in attendance, along with Judy Van Zant, Teresa Gaines, JoJo Billingsley and Leslie Hawkins.

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