Lynyrd Skynyrd

Lynyrd Skynyrd is an American hard-rock/boogie band from Jacksonville, Fla., that released five albums and a live double-LP on MCA between 1972 and 1977.

Members: Gary Rossington (guitar), Ronnie Van Zant (vocals, 1964-77), Allen Collins (guitar, vocals, 1964-77), Bob Burns (drums, 1964-71, 1973-74), Larry Junstrom (bass, 1964-71), Rickey Medlocke (guitar, drums, vocals, mandolin, 1971-72, 1996-present), Greg T. Walker (bass, 1971-72), Billy Powell (keyboards, piano, 1971-2009), Ed King (guitar, synthesizer, bass, mandolin, 1972-75, 1987-96), Leon Wilkeson (bass, vocals, 1972-2001), Artimus Pyle (drums, percussion, 1974-91), Cassie Gaines (backing vocals, 1975-77), Jo Jo Billingsley (backing vocals, 1975-77), Leslie Hawkins (backing vocals, 1975-77), Steve Gaines (guitar, vocals, 1976-77)

Lynyrd Skynyrd has its roots in a Jacksonville garage band called My Backyard, formed in 1964 by teenagers Ronnie Van Zant (vocals), Bob Burns (drums), Gary Rossington (rhythm guitar), Allen Collins (guitar), and Larry Junstrom (bass). They briefly changed their name to The Noble Five before settling on The One Percent. The latter aroused jokes from hecklers, who called them “The 1% Talented.”

In 1969, the now-adult band sought a less-easily spoofed name. In a mocking gesture, they renamed the band after Leonard Skinnerd, a notoriously strict teacher at Robert E. Lee High School. Members of the band had dropped out of the school over its policy that prohibited boys from having long hair. By 1970, they modified the spelling to Lynyrd Skynyrd.

During the early 1970s, Lynyrd Skynyrd became a top-draw in the Deep South with their mix of country, Delta blues, and British blues rock. They got an early break opening for touring hard-rockers Mountain.

In 1971, Junstrom left the band. (He would reemerge a half-decade later in .38 Special, formed with Van Zant’s younger brother, singer/guitarist Donnie Van Zant.) He was briefly replaced by bassist Greg Walker, who joined along with multi-instrumentalist Rickey Medlocke, who served as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s second drummer in 1971/72. Both hailed from then-unrecorded southern-rockers Blackfoot. With Walker and Medlocke, Skynyrd cut demos at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, including “One More Time,” which later appeared on the band’s 1977 release Street Survivors. After the pair left to reactivate Blackfoot, Skynyrd hired bassist Leon Wilkeson.

At a 1972 show at Funocchio’s in Atlanta, Lynyrd Skynyrd was seen by musician and producer Al Kooper, formerly of the Blues Project and Blood, Sweat and Tears. He signed them to his new label Sounds of the South, a subsidiary of MCA. Billy Powell, a long-time roadie of the band, joined as their keyboardist.

As Skynyrd entered Studio One in Doraville, Ga., in March 1973, Wilkeson briefly left the band due to stage fright. Ex-Strawberry Alarm Clock guitarist/bassist Ed King deputized his role for much of the sessions.


  • (pronounced ‘lĕh-‘nérd ‘skin-‘nérd) (1973)
  • Second Helping (1974)
  • Nuthin’ Fancy (1975)
  • Gimme Back My Bullets (1976)
  • One More From the Road (live 2LP, 1976)
  • Street Survivors (1977)
  • Skynyrd’s First and… Last (1978, recorded 1972—73)


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