On October 27, 1977, the rock world suffered one of the most tragic losses in music history when a twin-engine, propeller-driven Convair 240 plane crashed in a wooded area near Gillsburg, Mississippi. The chartered plane out of Texas carried the members of Southern rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd. They were headed from a Greenville, South Carolina, show to another in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The reported cause of the crash was fuel shortage. Of the 26 passengers on board, six were killed. They included Lynyrd Skynyrd’s singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and his sister and backup singer Cassie Gaines. They were all 28 years old. The group’s assistant road manager, Dean Kirkpatrick was also among the dead. Walter Wiley McCreary and William John Gray, the pilot and co-pilot, were also killed. Others were critically injured.
Lynyrd Skynyrd formed in Jacksonville, Florida, when Van Zant played in high school with Gary Rossington and Allen Collins. They named their band after the Robert E. Lee High School’s physical education instructor Leonard Skinner as a means of getting even. He was not a fan of long hair and loud music and he played a hand in getting them suspended from school.
- one of the top 100 groups/duos of all time
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee
- top 1000 songs of all time: “Free Bird” and “Sweet Home Alabama”
- top 1000 albums of all time: Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd (1973) and Second Helping (1974)
Resources and Related Links:
- Lynyrd Skynyrd’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
- SouthernTribute.com Southern Tribute to Lynyrd Skynrd: The Tragic Plane Crash