A Rockapaedia Obituary

Ronnie Van Zaphoto of Ronnie Van Zantnt

Band: Lynyrd Skynyrd

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Ronnie Van Zant died aged twenty-nine on 20th October 1977 after an aircraft carrying Lynyrd Skynyrd between shows crashed near Gillsburg, Mississippi, U.S.A. Ronnie was survived by his wife Judy, daughters Tammy and Melody and he was buried in Orange Park, Florida.


Ronnie was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida,U.S.A. to Lacy and Marion Van Zant. Ronnie aspired to be many things before finding his love for music. Idolising boxer Muhammad Ali, he considered a career in the ring, and while playing American Legion baseball dreamed of Minor League success.


Ronnie Van Zant formed a band called My Backyard late in 1964 with friends and schoolmates Allen Collins, Gary Rossington, Larry Junimage of Ronnie Van Zantstrom, and Bob Burns . The foursome went through several names before deciding on Lynyrd Skynyrd, a mock tribute to a gym teacher that all but Collins had had at Robert E. Lee High School, Leonard Skinner, who disapproved of male students with long hair.


The band's national exposure began in 1973 with the release of their debut album, which had a string of hits that included "I Ain't the One", "Tuesday's Gone", "Gimme Three Steps", "Simple Man," and what became their signature, "Free Bird".


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music: 'Freebird' by Lynyrd Skynyrd