It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting
for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.
Ecclesiastes 7:2(NIV)

Lynyrd Skynyrd


Singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, backup singer Cassie Gaines, and road manager Dean Kilpatrick died October 20, 1977 when Lynyrd Skynyrd's plane crashed in a swamp near Gillsburg, Mississippi. Guitarist Gary Rossington and bass player Leon Wilkeson were critically injured in the accident. The band was cruising at 10,000 feet when they heard a startling announcement. Their plane was beginning to run out of fuel.

Captain Walter W. McCreary and First Officer William J. Gray, Jr. of Falcon Aviation, operators of the charter flight, also died in the crash.

Lynyrd Skynyrd was en route from Greenville, South Carolina to play a Friday night show in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The members of the band had already decided that when their flight reached Baton Rouge, they would take a vote. The question: Whether that trip would be the last in their plane. The Convair 240 was almost 30 years old, and had been having mechanical problems. One of the band's techs had seen a six-foot trail of fire coming from an engine, and there had been considerable debate about whether the plane should have ever taken off from Greenvile.

They never had the chance to take that vote. A defective engine part resulted in an inproper fuel mix. The mixture was so rich that it literally used up all the fuel in the tank. Three band members, their road manager, and both pilots died when the plane glided down from 10.000 feet. The NTSB later determined the probable cause of the crash was "fuel exhaustion and total loss of power on both engines due to crew inattention to the fuel supply."

Local article from nearby MacComb, Mississippi about the accident FULL STORY

The aviation site provides a detailed look at the flight and its aftermath from an aviation perspective. FULL STORY

The band's name was inspired by Leonard Skinner, a coach and teacher at Robert E. Lee High School in Lynyrd Skynyrd's home town of Jacksonville, Florida. Skinner had once sent Gary Rossington to the principal's office for violating the school's dress code. The slight change in spelling and pronounciation came at the request of the band's lawyers, who worried that Skinner might sue if he took offense at the use of his name.

For his part, Skinner consistently said he would never have thought of such a thing. He later became friends with the band, and allowed them to photograph his "Leonard Skinner Realty" sign for use in the artwork on Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Second Helping" LP.

Skinner's son recalls his father's role in rock history. FULL STORY

In a newspaper article two days after the crash, Skinner said he was "just sick over this tragedy." FULL STORY

Guitarist Allen Collins died January 23, 1990 from chronic pneumonia, a result of a 1986 car accident which left him paralyzed and unable to perform.

Bassist Leon Wilkeson died July 27, 2001 due to complications from chronic liver and lung disease.

Guitarist Hughie Thomasson died September 9, 2007 of an apparent heart attack.

Keyboardist Billy Powell died January 28, 2009, of an apparent heart attack.

Bassist Ean Evans died May 6, 2009 of cancer.

The real estate sign he alllowed the band to use on its album bore Leonard Skinner's phone number, and not unexpectedly, Skinner's sleep was interrupted more than once by late night phone calls from fans wanting to know if he was THE Leonard Skinner. Skinner said that when he responded that he was, their reply was invariably "Far out!" Leonard Skinner died peacefully in his sleep on September 20, 2010 at age 77.

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