Lynyrd skynyrd

Jonathan Tyler introduced me to their music at school. While almost everyone else was “into” punk or a new wave of British bands, he liked heavy metal. Black Sabbath and AC-DC were too hard core for my tastes, but I did like Free Bird and its long guitar solo. I learnt later that the excessively long version I was listening to was a relatively abbreviated recording.

There were two ingredients to their mystique:

(i) they had named themselves after a teacher they had hated at school. Given that we were at boarding school, this gave us ideas about names of bands of our own.

(ii) they had all died tragically in a plane crash in 1977.

You can therefore imagine my surprise when I learnt that they were playing at the end of a baseball match in Atlanta. Of course, they hadn’t all died. The lead singer and two others had died, while the others were merely seriously injured.

What is now left is essentially a tribute band. There is only one original member. He played the triangle in the original band*. The lead singer is the younger brother of Ronnie Van Sant. Otherwise, it’s a mixture of musicians who have played in the band over the years.

Band members over the years have died at regular intervals. Aside from the 3 deaths in the plane crash, one died from the long term effects of a car crush when drunk; a second died from chronic lung and liver disease; a third died of a heart attack at 56; and a fourth – who had experienced a premonition 2 days before the 1977 plane crash and had tried to persuade other group members not to travel – died of cancer. Two other new ones from the 1990s incarnation have also died. This makes whoever sold group life insurance to the band incredibly unlucky.

The concert was good. Guitar playing was exceptional and there’s a strong passion from southern rednecks for the band. There is something unpretentious about the band which appeals to southern white boys and girls of a certain age. The backing singers both looked like Stiffler’s mom and I suspect this is a core demographic.

*This is a joke; it was rhythm guitar. Incidentally, he broke both legs, arms, wrists, ankles and pelvis in the 1977 crash


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Melville on September 2, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    When you said that you were at a baseball match and someone commented on your seeing Lynyrd Skynyrd I thought he must be one of the players (the thrower possibly). But then again “popular culture” of whatever nation has always been the big gap in my general knowledge.

    Thanks Julian I now know more, but since I cannot pronounce the name of the group I will be unable to drop it into conversation at the bridge club.


  2. Posted by Lisa on September 4, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    I enjoy Melville’s comments on your commentary just as much as your commentary!


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