Three members of the best southern rock band in history perished in a plane crash. Lynyrd Skynyrd, a band created in 1964 in Jacksonville, Florida by Ronnie Van Zant as singer, Gary Rossington and Allen Collins as guitarists, Larry Junstrom on bass and Bob Burns on drums, became over time with the Allman Brothers Band that embodied by definition a whole language, a musical style and a whole way of doing and understanding rock, what we know today as southern rock. We look back at the 15 Strange Facts About Lynyrd Skynyrd Fatal Plane Crash:
The Day The Music Died
The phrase “the day the music died”, a phrase taken from the song “American Pie” by Don McLean, refers to the tragic plane crash that occurred on February 3, 1959, in Clear Lake, Iowa (United States). A plane crashed after taking off, and in the accident died, in addition to the pilot, three prominent musicians to a greater and lesser extent from the scene of the time, none other than the mythical Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens (the author of “La Bamba”).
Ronnie Van Zant Predicted He Won’t Reach 30
Ronnie Van Zant, leader of Lynyrd Skynyrd was clear that he would not reach 30. He had said it many times, as loud and clear as when, the group met to decide if they would continue the tour of ’77 traveling in an ancient Convair that shortly before had rejected Aerosmith, settled the discussion saying “I only know that if the time has come to leave, it has come, so” … So that October 20, 24 passengers, including members of the group and people close, got on the plane at Greenville airport bound for nowhere.
Aerosmith Would Have Shared The Same Fate
The music obviously did not die, but 18 years later another equally tragic episode happened. On October 20, 1977, a plane crashed in a heavily wooded area of southeastern Mississippi. They wanted to rent and even buy (they were selling very well) a plane so that they could move from one concert to another more comfortably than in vans or coaches.
But the budget was limited and they decided to rent a Convair 240 from Greenville, South Carolina, to Baton Rouge, in Louisiana. That same plane had been rejected by Aerosmith shortly before as the person responsible for examining it decided that it was not safe to travel. And he was right. The ship crashed in
20 People Survived
It was a hit never seen in the history of Rock. The singer and leader, the immeasurable in all respects Ronnie Van Zant, the recently joined and exceptional guitarist Steve Gaines and Steve’s showgirl and sister Cassie Gaines, as well as the road manager, the pilot and also the co-pilot of the plane, have died. Another 20 people were left alive, miraculously, including the rest of the group.
Street Survivors Foreshadowing
“We have little fuel, it is almost finished,” it was learned later that the pilot told the Houston Center. Less than a quarter of an hour later, the plane had already crashed outside Gillsburg. The original cover of Street Survivors showed members of the group standing among burning buildings, and the company was forced to remove references to fire. The album, one of their most brilliant works, had only been released for a few days.
It Was Deemed To Happen
Some of the gang members did not want to use this means of transport, as their condition was more than questionable. In addition, he had already had serious problems in the last trip they had made. Even showgirl Jo Jo Billingsley had a premonitory dream in which she saw what was going to happen. The truth is that they ended up convincing each other and the flight began, something that should never have happened. When there was not too much time left until its destination, the lack of fuel and the problems in one of the engines began to warn of the disaster that was already irreversible.
Pilots Attempted An Emergency Landing
The pilots attempted an emergency landing due to the impossibility of reaching the nearest airport, at which point they experienced a real hell with fatal consequences. Singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and showgirl Cassie Gaines, the sister of the former, passed away there.
The Music Never Died
In 1964, schoolmates Ronnie Van Zant, singer, guitarists Gary Rossington and Allen Collins, and drummer Bob Burns met and began to realize a dream, which resulted in one of the best discographies in history, featuring a sound like a rock, also with feeling. The banners of a whole style, southern rock. A controversial and tragic trajectory like few others (later more members of the band died. For posterity an unbeatable repertoire remains. The eternal “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Free Bird” are just the tip of the tip of the iceberg.
The Group Still Continued
Everything suggested that the group would not return, but a year later their record company released a compilation album that did very well in sales and by 1979 Billy Powell, Gary Rossington, Artimus Pyle and Allen Collins returned to the ring to give new life to the project, this once with the female voice of Dale Krantz, Rossington’s partner.
Leon Wikenson, Billy Powell and Allen Collins appear far enough away to escape the tragedy but not the curse, all have died prematurely. A car accident, an assassination attempt, a strange disease … Before the tragedy they had agreed that only if three original members remained in the band, would they continue to use the name; Only Gary Rosington and Artimus Pylea remains, but Gary has decided to move on.
In 1987, on the 10th anniversary of the plane crash, they reunited for a full tour, under the name Lynyrd. Skynyrd Tribute Band, with Johnnie Van Zant replacing his brother Ronnie and Ed King back in line-up.
Gary Rossington And Artimus Pyle Are The Only Remaining Survivor Of The Plane Crash Today
Musicians kept coming and going, and while the formations changed, they made records. But many of those new members also died along the way. Like Leon Wilkeson with his liver problems, Ean Evans with cancer (he left the group when he was already ill) and finally Billy Powell in 2008. Thus, Rossington and Artimus Pyle left as the only survivor of the plane tragedy.
A Movie Was Made
“Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash” hit theaters across the United States in the spring off 2020. The long-postponed biopic that chronicles the plane crash that killed several of the original members of the southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, including its founder, was released at the Hollywood Independent Film Festival Reel.
Artimus Pyle Told The Tales Of The Accident
“Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash” tells the story of that final tragic flight through the eyes of its drummer Artimus Pyle, who survived the tragedy and helped lift the survivors from the wreckage in the moments after the accident. Pyle pulled the remaining survivors from the wreckage and limped to a nearby farm in rural Louisiana to get help. The musician has served as a consultant on the film, working with writer and director Jared Cohn to make the project as historically accurate as possible.
A Lawsuit Against The Film
In 2017, a judge halted production following a lawsuit from the families of accident victims Van Zant and Gaines, along with the band’s founding member and guitarist, Gary Rossington. The lawsuit alleged that Pyle’s participation in the film with its corresponding proceeds would violate an agreement made by the surviving members of the band in 1987. An appeals court reversed the decision in 2018, paving the way for the film’s release.