With the recent passing of guitarist Gary Rossington, the last surviving original member of the Lynyrd Skynyrd band, my memory was sparked into thinking about one of a handful of 5 Heart concert experiences in my life. I’ve seen almost everyone I’ve wanted to see, 300+ concerts, so to say Lynyrd Skynyrd is in the top 3, should give you and idea of how completely blown away I was by this band.
I was raised by a pretty strict father and being the first-born girl in a family of 11, it would be an understatement to say he was harder on me than my three sisters. They would all agree, and as a matter of fact, the second oldest has thanked me multiple times for being born first. Which makes me laugh every time. So when I asked if I could go to the Lynyrd Skynyrd concernt with a friend that was raised very differently than me by musician parents, I was shocked I was allowed to go.
The day before the concert, my friend asked me to go with her to the band’s meet-and-greet at the local mall so she could get her album signed. What a trip that was! My friend was an actress is not shy, to say the least. So we waited in a very long line and when our turn came to meet Ronnie Van Zant, my friend asked him for a kiss, to which Ronnie replied with a tip of his cowboy hat, “Sure little lady!” I kid you not.
We went to the concert the next day and I along with every single person in the auditorium danced the entire time. “Free Bird” remains my all-time favorite live performance of any one song. The place was crazy with an energy I have not experienced before or since.
Tragically, Ronnie, along with members of their team, was killed in a plane crash just two days later. Other band members were seriously injured. My brother, a HUGE Skynyrd fan, cried for weeks. (He has a guitar signed by the entire band that he won on the radio as a promotion when they came to town for the concert. Can’t even imagine what it’s worth. Lynyrd Skynyrd fans, till this day, are diehard!)
As a funny-not-so-funny story about Lynyrd Skynyrd, I once got stung in the tongue while riding my bike and singing “Sweet Home Alabama”. I love their music but I have never attended one of their concerts after the plane crash. They went on to be quite successful. But I am certain anyone would agree, never the same with out their sweet gentleman and original frontman, Ronnie.