Lynyrd Skynyrd is an American rock band best known for popularizing the Southern rock genre during the 1970s.
Let’s find out some interesting facts about them!
1. In the summer of 1964, teenage friends Ronnie Van Zant, Bob Burns, Allen Collins, Gary Rossington, and Larry Junstrom formed the earliest incarnation of the band in Jacksonville, Florida as My Backyard.
2. The band then changed its name to The Noble Five. The band used different names before using One Percent during 1968.
3. In 1969, Van Zant sought a new name. The group settled on Leonard Skinnerd, a mocking tribute to physical education teacher Leonard Skinner at Robert E. Lee High School.
4. Skinner was notorious for strictly enforcing the school’s policy against boys having long hair.
5. Rossington dropped out of school, tired of being hassled about his hair.
6. The more distinctive spelling “Lynyrd Skynyrd” was being used at least as early as 1970. Despite their high school acrimony, the band developed a friendlier relationship with Skinner in later years, and invited him to introduce them at a concert in the Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum.
7. Skinner also allowed the band to use a photo of his Leonard Skinner Realty sign for the inside of their third album.
8. By 1970, Lynyrd Skynyrd had become a top band in Jacksonville, headlining at some local concerts, and opening for several national acts. Pat Armstrong, a Jacksonville native and partner in Macon-based Hustlers Inc. with Phil Walden’s younger brother, Alan Walden, became the band’s managers.
9. Armstrong left Hustlers shortly thereafter to start his own agency. Walden stayed with the band until 1974, when management was turned over to Peter Rudge.
10. The band continued to perform throughout the South in the early 1970s, further developing their hard-driving blues rock sound and image, and experimenting with recording their sound in a studio. Skynyrd crafted this distinctively “southern” sound through a creative blend of blues, and a slight British rock influence.
11. During this time, the band experienced some lineup changes for the first time. Junstrom left and was briefly replaced by Greg T. Walker on bass.
12. At that time, Ricky Medlocke joined as a vocalist and second drummer to help fortify Burns’ sound on the drums. Medlocke grew up with the founding members of Lynyrd Skynyrd and his grandfather Shorty Medlocke was an influence in the writing of “The Ballad of Curtis Loew”. Some versions of the band’s history state Burns briefly left the band during this time.
13. The band did play some shows with both Burns and Medlocke, using a dual-drummer approach. In 1971, they made some recordings at the famous Muscle Shoals Sound Studio with Walker and Medlocke serving as the rhythm section, but without the participation of Burns.
14. Medlocke and Walker left the band to play with another southern rock band, Blackfoot, and when the band made a second round of Muscle Shoals recordings in 1972, Burns was once again featured on drums and Leon Wilkeson on bass.
15. Also in 1972, roadie Billy Powell became the keyboardist for the band. Medlocke later returned to once again play drums for Lynyrd Skynyrd. Medlocke and Walker did not appear on any album until the 1978 release of First and… Last, a compilation of recordings made during 1971-1972 originally intended to be their first album.
16. Originally formed in 1964 as My Backyard in Jacksonville, Florida, the band was also known by names such as The Noble Five and One Percent, before finally deciding on “Lynyrd Skynyrd” in 1969.
17. The band gained worldwide recognition for its live performances and signature songs “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Free Bird”. At the peak of their success, two band members and a backup singer died in an airplane crash in 1977, putting an abrupt end to the band’s most popular incarnation. The band has sold 28 million records in the United States.
18. The surviving band members reformed in 1987 for a reunion tour with lead vocalist Johnny Van Zant, the younger brother of lead singer and founder Ronnie Van Zant.
19. Lynyrd Skynyrd continues to tour and record with co-founder Gary Rossington, Johnny Van Zant, and guitarist Rickey Medlocke — who first wrote and recorded with the band from 1971 to 1972 (before his return to Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1996).
20. Fellow founding member Larry Junstrom, along with ’70s members Ed King and Artimus Pyle, remain active in music but no longer tour or record with the band. Michael Cartellone has recorded and toured with the band as its core drummer since 1999. Lynyrd Skynyrd was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 13, 2006.