FLASHBACK: LYNYRD SKYNYRD’S PLANE CRASHES

It was 43 years ago today (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.

Lynyrd’s Skynyrd’s head of security Gene Odom, who was on the plane and one of the 20 survivors, spoke to filmmaker Tony Beazley and recalled the state of Ronnie Van Zant’s body after the fatal crash: “Ronnie Van Zant had an eight-inch little nick and a fractured bone in his leg. His own father, when he went to identify the body the next day — October 21st — said also, that when they pulled Ronnie out, Ronnie looked like he was asleep. No injuries. He said that he just had a little bump right here behind his ear — a little cut. And Lacy (Van Zant) didn’t know his leg was broke. He says, ‘He just looked like he was laying there asleep.'”

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.

When we last caught up with Gary Rossington — who broke both arms, both legs, both wrists, both ankles and his pelvis in the plane crash — was asked what motivates him and his bandmates to keep the Skynyrd name alive: “Gosh, it’s just, y’know, you gotta carry on, and go through it. If you take the lives of just any seven individuals and follow them, tragedy happens, y’know? And it just happened to us. And we just kept carryin’ on, we’re doin’ it for the guys that aren’t with us, and for us, and for the music and the name and — it’s what we are.”

In August 2018, the definitive and authorized Skynyrd documentary, If I Leave Here Tomorrow, premiered on Showtime. Gary Rossington told Yahoo Entertainment why director Stephen Kijak‘s doc works where so many others failed, explaining, “All the other documentaries were negative, and they really didn’t show how when we started, we were brothers. We’d die for each other. We grew up together, y’know? We were so happy, and it was a family. (The film) shows us, me and Ronnie (Van Zant) looking right at each other, and it was like, all my friends are dead and gone. I just went, ‘Oh, my God.’ It’s just real sentimental to me. I see all the memories and they’re alive; they’re like jumping beans in my brain.”

FAST FORWARD

Finally released this year was Street Survivors: The True Story Of The Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash. Former drummer Artimus Pyle, who served as a producer on the film, said in a statement: “This film’s story — MY story — is not just about the plane crash but also about my personal relationship with the genius that was Ronnie Van Zant — whom I loved like a brother and still miss to this day.”

Back in 2017, the heirs of Ronnie Van Zant and late-bandmembers Steve and Cassie Gaines, along with founding guitarist Gary Rossington, sued Pyle and Cleopatra Records in an effort to block the movie. After an appeal, Pyle was permitted to tell his own life story.

AUDIO: GARY ROSSINGTON ON LYNYRD SKYNYRD
AUDIO: GENE ODOM ON RONNIE VAN ZANT

PEARL JAM CELEBRATES ANNIVERSARY WITH LIVESTREAM PEFORMANCE

Pearl Jam is offering a pay-per-view stream of their live performance from April 29, 2016 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of their first live performance. Antimusic.com reports that the webcast will feature the band’s entire 32-song set from that show at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, which features a performance of their entire debut album Ten.

The livestream will be available on Nugs.net from Thursday (Oct. 22nd) at 8 p.m. ET through Oct. 25th at 11:59 p.m. PT. Tickets are available for $14.99.

Pearl Jam’s very first live performance took place at the Off Ramp in Seattle in Oct. of 1990.

BRIAN JOHNSON SAYS AC/DC IS ROAD READY

Chalk it up to the ongoing pandemic, but if it were not for Covid-19 — we’d be gearing up for a major AC/DC tour. The band will release its 17th studio set, Power Up on November 13th. Ultimate-Guitar.com reported during a chat with Britain’s Planet Radio, frontman Brian Johnson spoke about the state of the band today, “I think it could be said for all the boys in the band — we just needed to have some rehearsals, and that was enough to whet our appetite, we just started smiling, if you’ll excuse the pun, once we were powered-up in the rehearsal room. It was just all smiles, it was great to have that feeling again, y’know, to be together. Obviously, the audience is a big part of playing it, it gets you the juice, it’s the sixth member of the band and all those things — it’s a great feel.”

After being sidelined for much of the band’s last tour behind its Rock Or Bust album, which saw Axl Rose leading the band while he dealt with some serious hearing issues, Brian Johnson admitted it felt great to be behind the mic in good health, with his buddies: “For me, it was lovely just to get back and relax, really, and be — I can say — family again, just this bond that we built up over the years. So what you had was wonderful electricity in the studio when we got together. Malcolm was floating around there all the time as well, it was brilliant, we had such a good time.”

40 years after the death of co-founding frontman Bon Scott and recording 1980’s iconic Back In Black album, guitarist Angus Young looked back at Brian Johnson’s first sessions with AC/DC: “When we made it, it was a do-or-die effort, and it was Brian’s first time with the band, so it was all new and fresh. We felt we had a great album, great songs for that album, and I guess we’ve been very lucky over all these years people still love that album.”

Brian Johnson told us he was well versed in the band’s catalogue, with his previous band, Geordie, often including AC/DC songs in its setlists: Well, we used to do a couple of the lads’ songs in the set that we did up in the clubs in Newcastle. We did ‘(Whole Lotta) Rosie’ and ‘Highway To Hell.’ They were starting to become a cult band then.”

AUDIO: BRIAN JOHNSON ON JOINING ACDC

STEVE PERRY RECALLS PASSING ON VAN HALEN JAM SESSION

Steve Perry revealed that a pre-Sammy Hagar team-up between him and Eddie Van Halen nearly happened. Perry became close with Van Halen when they and Montrose opened for Journey in 1978 during Van Halen’s first national tour. Perry recalled, “I don’t think anyone knows this, but when David Lee Roth left Van Halen (in 1985) I was living in the Bay Area and not sure what I was or wasn’t going to do anymore. I don’t remember how it went down, but either I called Eddie or Eddie called me. Back in those days, we were both having what you could call ‘late-night behaviors’ on the phone. All I know is we both ended up on the phone that night having some fun talking trash.”

He went on to remember, “Eddie said that I should come down sometime and we should jam, have a play. Man, at some level within me I felt so honored because I was in awe of Eddie’s natural talent. He was just born with it. I wanted so badly to do that. We talked about how cool that could be musically. This was before Sammy.”

Perry recalled, “The next day and in the weeks to come I thought, ‘I don’t know that I should do that. If it goes creatively to what I know it can go to. . .’ Whatever I could bring to that, I know it would be something I’d really love doing. My only problem I had with it was the thought, “I don’t know that I could be the guy to go out and represent the David Lee Roth years with my voice. I don’t know if I want to be that guy.” And shortly thereafter, they got Sammy and he was the perfect version of that guy.”

Perry is ultimately happy with the way things turned out for him and Van Halen: “I don’t know what Eddie’s intentions were when he called me. He was just saying, ‘Let’s get together and play.’ It wasn’t a promise. It was just, ‘Why not? Let’s see what this sounds like.’ As I said, I think representing their legacy up to that point would have been something vocally that I don’t think I was really suited to doing. It’s a different kind of singing.”