Back in January, Southern Rock veterans Lynyrd Skynyrd announced they would be concluding their 40-year run and taking that final bow with a farewell tour. Now, they’ve got exciting news for fans who have yet to snag tickets! The band has decided to add 21 new dates to their final “Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour,” which kicked off on May 4.
The second leg starts this fall with a September 22 performance at the iHeartRadio Music Festival, which will also feature Justin Timberlake, Carrie Underwood, Mariah Carey, and Jason Aldean, among others. Lynyrd Skynyrd will then hit a range of cities, such as Nashville, Kansas City, Louisville, Baltimore, and Baton Rouge. The tour will wrap at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi on December 8.
"This farewell tour has already been the perfect end to an incredible run and we are not even halfway through the tour yet,” said Gary Rossington, guitarist and sole remaining original member. “There is still lots of road to go and lots of fans to see one last time.”
As with the first leg of the tour, the band will share the stage with a rotation of supporting acts, including Kid Rock, Bad Company, Marshall Tucker Band, 38 Special, Hank Williams Jr., Charlie Daniels Band, Blackfoot and Blackberry Smoke.
Who Is Lynyrd Skynyrd?
Lynyrd Skynyrd started out as a group of friends (vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, guitarists Gary Rossington and Allen Collins, bassist Larry Junstrom, and drummer Bob Burns) who went to school together in Jacksonville, Florida. They had a physical education teacher called Leonard Skinner who was notorious for strictly enforcing the school's policy against boys having long hair. This inspired Rossington to drop out of school permanently and help form a band which would eventually be named after Skinner (with a few letters changed so he wouldn't sue them).
By 1970, Lynyrd Skynyrd had become a top band in Jacksonville, headlining at some local concerts, and opening for several national acts. In 1972, the band (then comprising Van Zant, Collins, Rossington, Burns, Wilkeson, and Powell) was discovered by musician, songwriter, and producer Al Kooper of Blood, Sweat & Tears. Kooper signed them to his label and produced their first self-titled album in 1973. It achieved gold status by the RIAA and featured the hit song “Free Bird.”
Lynyrd Skynyrd continued its peak with their 1974 album, Second Helping, which cemented the band’s breakthrough with the single “Sweet Home Alabama.” During their peak years, each of their records sold over one million copies. However, the single, which was a response to Neil Young’s “Southern Man,” was the only single to crack the top ten.
Bassist Leon Wilkeson was replaced by Ed King. King and his replacement, Steve Gaines, were both born on the same day, September 14, 1949. 1977's Street Survivors turned out to be a showcase for Gaines, who had joined the band just a year earlier and was making his studio debut with them. 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".
On October 20, 1977, Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines died in a plane crash in Mississippi. Gaines' sister, Cassie, who was a backup singer with the group, also died. Allen Collins survived the crash but became paralyzed from the waist down in a 1986 car crash. He passed away in 1990 from pneumonia because of decreased lung capacity from being paralyzed.
Al Kooper told Rolling Stone magazine: "Ronnie Van Zant was Lynyrd Skynyrd. I don't mean to demean the roles the others played in the group's success, but it never would have happened without him. His lyrics were a big part of it - like Woody Guthrie and Merle Haggard before him, Ronnie knew how to cut to the chase. And Ronnie ran that band with an iron hand. I have never seen such internal discipline in a band. One example: These guys composed all of their guitar solos. Most bands improvised solos each time they performed or recorded. Not them. Ronnie's dream was that they would sound exactly the same every time they took the stage."
A fun fact about the late Ronnie Van Zant is that he did not wear shoes when performing live.
After the plane crash, the remaining members said that Lynyrd Skynyrd was finished, with Collins stating, "Some people are telling us we should keep the name because it obviously has value since people recognize it. To hell with them.”
In 1980, Rossington, Collins, Powell, and Wilkeson formed the Rossington-Collins Band, but they later decided to revive Lynyrd Skynyd with the addition of Johnny Van Zant, Ronnie’s younger brother.
As for Coach Skinner, he passed away in 2010 at the age of 77. Gary Rossington released a statement saying: "Coach Skinner had such a profound impact on our youth that ultimately led us to naming the band, which you know as Lynyrd Skynyrd, after him. Looking back, I cannot imagine it any other way. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time."
Lynyrd Skynyrd has sold 28 million records in the United States. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.
Where is Lynyrd Skynyrd playing near me?
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