August 13 marks 50 years since the release of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s debut album, (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd), which features some of the band’s most well-known songs.
Recorded in Jacksonville, Florida, in a rehearsal space Skynyrd called Hell House, the album launched the Southern rockers to superstardom, thanks to tracks like “Simple Man,” “Gimme Three Steps,” “Tuesday’s Gone” and their iconic track “Free Bird.”
Most of those songs are as popular today as they were in the ’70s, and current Skynyrd guitarist Rickey Medlocke believes it all comes down to the lyrics, co-written by the band’s original frontman, Ronnie Van Zant.
“Ronnie was a genius,” Medlocke tells ABC Audio of Ronnie’s lyrics, which he says “people could relate to.”
Ronnie’s younger brother, and Skynyrd’s current frontman, Johnny Van Zant, agrees. “I think it was the lyrics, it’s the music, you know, I think it just touches generations,” he says. “And Ronnie was a poet and a writer for the common people of the world.”
(Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd) went on to be certified double Platinum by the RIAA and peaked at #27 on the Billboard album chart.
Sadly, every Skynyrd member who played on the album has now died; Ronnie and vocalist Steve Gaines died along with four others in a 1977 plane crash following a concert in South Carolina. The last surviving original member of Skynyrd, guitarist Gary Rossington, passed away in March 2023.
But the music of Lynyrd Skynyrd lives on. The current lineup, which features Johnny and Rickey, is currently on their Sharp Dressed Simple Man Tour with ZZ Top. It hits Wheatland, California, on Friday, August 11. A complete list of dates can be found at lynyrdskynyrd.com.
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