40 YEARS AGO TODAY: LYNYRD SKYNYRD'S PLANE CRASHES

Stoneman talks with Marc Frank one of the survivors from the crash.

October 20, 2017

It was 40 years ago tonight (October 20th, 1977), that a plane carrying Lynyrd Skynyrd crashed in a swamp near Gillsburg, Mississippi. At the time, the group was en route to its next show in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The crash took the lives of lead singer Ronnie Van Zant; guitarist Steve Gaines and his sister, backup singer Cassie Gaines; Skynyrd manager Dean Kilpatrick, as well as the plane's two pilots Walter McCreary and William Gray. Three days before the crash (October 17th), the band released its fifth album, Street Survivors, which featured the soon-to-be classics "What's Your Name" and "That Smell." The album cover, which featured the band seemingly engulfed in flames, was eventually substituted with another photo in light of the horrific plane crash. In 2007, the 30th anniversary reissue reinstated the original album cover.

Marc Frank of Spartanburg, one of Lynyrd's Skynyrd's road crew was on the plane and one of the 20 survivors, he talked with me a few years ago about his story: 

Mark_Frank_interview_October_2017.mp3

Skynyrd's head of security Gene Odom, spoke to filmmaker Tony Beazley and recalled the state of Ronnie Van Zant's body after the fatal crash: 

Gene_Odom_On_Ronnie_Van_Zant.mp3

 

All the other members of the band suffered horrific injuries, from which they eventually recovered. Two years later, survivors Gary Rossington and Allen Collins (guitars), Billy Powell (keyboards) and Leon Wilkeson (bass) formed a new group, the Rossington-Collins Band. A decade after the plane crash, the surviving members of Skynyrd regrouped under the legendary name and played a series of dates to mark the anniversary with Johnny Van Zant, the youngest brother of Ronnie Van Zant, stepping in as his permanent replacement.

 

For more info on the plane crash, check this out: 

http://www.check-six.com/Crash_Sites/LynyrdSkynyrd-N55VM.htm

http://www.tennesseeconcerts.com/planecrash

http://www.gendisasters.com/mississippi/1416/gillsburg-ms-plane-crash-ki...

http://www.lynyrdskynyrdhistory.com/