Lynyrd Skynyrd-Street Survivors 40th-Gary Rossington, Charlie Daniels

The tale of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Street Survivors   seems to have been hatched in the vivid imagination of Tennessee Williams, Harper Lee, or William Faulkner, but the characters are so colorful, the childhood bonds so strong, the struggles so personal, the victories so inspiring, and the heartbreak so deep that there is simply no need for hyperbole in telling it. Lynyrd Skynyrd co-founder Gary Rossington, along with a cameo from Souther Rock patriarch Charlie Daniels, lives to salute the band’s biggest-selling album Street Survivors containing “What’s Your Name”, “That Smell”, “I Know a Little”, “You Got That Right”, and the poignant “One More Time”.

The redemption story of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s most musically mature and popular album, Street Survivors, is sadly forever framed by gut-wrenching tragedy. Revisiting the time of of one of music history’s darkest days compels us to separate fact from fiction, myth from legend about the band who waded from the swamps at Green Cove Springs outside Jacksonville Florida to the top of the charts. Their fifth studio album, Street Survivors remains unique in the long Lynyrd Skynyrd discography in several ways: it is the last recorded by original members guitarist Allen Collins and singer/ songwriter Ronnie Van Zant; it is the only studio appearance with songs and performances by Steve Gaines; and Street Survivors  is Lynyrd Skynyrd’s highest charting album at #5.

With the marking of the fortieth anniversary  this Friday (20th) of the tragic airplane accident which decimated the original Lynyrd Skynyrd, you could focus on the obvious fact that guitarists  Gary Rossington and past prodigal & current member Rick Medlocke are the sole survivors of the Jacksonville kids who met on the baseball field, practiced in a carport, and wrote rock history. Yet if you over-analyze the meaning of this latest attrition, you risk missing the point of every Lynyrd Skynyrd release and tour (counting the Rossington-Collins Band) for the last 40 years. When I asked a visibly scarred and emotionally traumatized Gary Rossington in May 1980 why he chose to soldier on after the tragic 1977 Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash killed three band members, Rossington replied,”Because I don’t know how to do anything else, except pick strawberries. And I’d rather play music.”

The core of Lynyrd Skynyrd always has been the ageless bond among boyhood friends from the wrong side of the tracks in Jacksonville. Eventually nature  will impose its own “stop loss policy” on the band, but it appears unlikely as long as original members Rossington and Medlocke are the last men standing.

See and hear Lynyrd Skynyrd  on the streets once again back home in Florida to rally hurricane survivors In Tallahassee 11/3, Lakeland 11/4, and Pembroke Pines FL 11/5; then taking Southern Rock to the Southern Hemisphere  in December with concerts in Santiago Chile,  Brazil’s Buenos Aires, Curitiba, and Sao Paulo, plus Rio de Janeiro, Argentina. – Redbeard