Disturbing Details About The Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash
In the annals of music history, the mere mention of Lynyrd Skynyrd evokes a terrible memory of the fateful day in 1977 when the rock band met a devastating plane crash in the woods of Mississippi. This event marked one of the darkest chapters in the rock ‘n’ roll empire, leaving an indelible impact on the lives of the band members and their legions of fans. Let’s dive into the disturbing details of this tragic incident and unravel the heartbreaking journey that took place that October day.
Birth of Lynyrd Skynyrd:
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s roots go back to 1964 at a ballpark in Florida, where chance encounters led to the formation of the band. A freak incident involving a misplaced baseball marked the beginning of a musical journey for Ronnie Van Zant, Bob Burns and Gary Rossington. With the addition of Allen Collins and Larry Jungstrom, Lynyrd Skynyrd emerged, embracing their southern rock identity. The band’s moniker, a playful jab at a strict PE teacher named Leonard Skinner, added a touch of rebelliousness to their growing fame.
Rising up to glory:
As Lynyrd Skynyrd’s popularity grew, tragedy loomed on the horizon. By October 15, 1977, the band, now with new members, embarked on a substantial three-month tour. Their fifth album, “Street Survivors,” had just debuted, and featured an eerie cover that would later be seen as a strange foreshadowing of their fate.
Choosing the ill-fated Convair 240:
The ill-fated Convair 240, a vintage twin-engine plane with a questionable history, was the chosen mode of transportation for Lynyrd Skynyrd’s tour. Despite warnings about his condition, the band, driven by a nonchalant acceptance of Ronnie Van Zant’s fate, boarded the plane along with the crew. Unbeknownst to them, this decision will soon lead to a heart-wrenching disaster.
As the Convair 240 left Greenville, South Carolina, en route to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, ominous signs began to appear. Two and a half hours into the flight, the pilot, Walter McCreary, radioed air traffic control in Houston that he was critically low on fuel. Panic ensued among the passengers when they realized the terrible situation they were in. Ten agonizing minutes later, the plane crash-landed in the woods of Mississippi, leaving devastation in its wake.
Survival in the middle Tragedy:
The once lively band found themselves in a surreal nightmare. The crash claimed the lives of Ronnie Van Zant, Cassie Gaines, Steve Gaines and others, while the survivors faced a harrowing scene of devastation. Band members like Billy Powell and Artimus Pyle, injured but alive, emerged from the wreckage. Amidst the chaos, Powell, with a bloody nose, heroically began helping others. Their cries for help echoed through the swampy, wooded area as rescuers, like a good Samaritan named Johnny Mote, rushed to their aid.
Media attacks and lingering questions:
The news of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane crash sent shockwaves through the music world. Fans anxiously listened to the reports, and the tragedy remained etched in history. A subsequent investigation by the US National Transportation Safety Board revealed a series of failures that led to the fuel exhaustion. Lingering questions about the adequacy of fueling procedures and mechanical failures added a layer of complexity to an already tragic story.
Album cover Polemics:
After that, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Street Survivors” album cover took on a chilling significance. The fiery background, which seemed to portend disaster, led to a change to the cover. The families, deeply affected, requested a change, and the reissued version of the album featured an alternative image without the flames.
A decade of healing and loss:
The surviving members faced a decade of slow healing, with critical injuries lingering long after the accident. Despite losses such as the paraplegia of Allen Collins and the later deaths of Wilkerson, Powell and Collins himself, Lynyrd Skynyrd endured. In 1987, the remaining members, joined by new faces, reunited to create a live album, symbolizing resilience in the face of tragedy.
Inheritance and Legally Battles:
Decades later, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s legacy has faced challenges, legal battles over film adaptations and disagreements among the original members. Documentary releases offered insight into the band’s journey, highlighting the lasting impact of that ill-fated flight.
Lynyrd Skynyrd Today:
In the middle of a quiet forest near Gillsburg, the crash site stands as a somber monument, decorated with tributes from fans. Original member Gary Rossington, the sole survivor, continued the band’s legacy, touring and releasing albums. In 2019, a memorial dedication brought together surviving members and fans, highlighting the lasting impact of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s music.
As we remember the first anniversary of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane crash, the echoes of that tragic day still reverberate. The band’s resilience, the enduring legacy of their music, and the solemn memorial at the crash site testify to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s indomitable spirit and the poignant chapters carved into rock ‘n’ roll history.