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Here are some of the most common questions the fans have about the Lynyrd Skynyrd band

When did Lynyrd Skynyrd first get together?
The first version of "Lynyrd Skynyrd" came together in the summer of 1964 when Bob Burns, Gary Rossington and Ronnie VanZant got together with Allen Collins and Larry Junstrom. The five teenagers practiced in Bob's carport and named their new band My Backyard -- the first of many names that come and go over the next five years.

What were the other names Lynyrd Skynyrd went by before they were Lynyrd Skynyrd?
My Backyard was followed by The Noble Five. Other names included Conqueror Worm, Sons of Satan, the Wildcats and finally the One Percent. The band went by the One Percent for several years until 1970.

Where did "Lynyrd Skynyrd" come from?
Lynyrd Skynyrd came from Leonard Skinner. Skinner was a gym coach at Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville who at some point in the 1960s disciplined Gary and Bob for letting their hair grow. The young musicians eventually dropped out of school, but remembered all the hassles. In 1970, the band -- playing as the One Percent -- had a gig at a local club called the Forest Inn and Ronnie called out to the crowd, "Hey, we're Leonard Skinner and we're gonna play for y'all tonight". Since most of the crowd had run into Coach Skinner at one point or another the name was an instant hit and stuck. Eventually, the vowels were changed "to protect the guilty" -- as Gary put it a few years agao.

Who all died in the plane crash?
The October 20, 1977, plane crash killed lead singer and song writer Ronnie VanZant, guitarist Steve Gaines, vocalist Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick. Also killed were pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray.

How did Skynyrd's plane crash?
According to the NTSB report the pilots miscalculated the amount of fuel provided in Lakeland, Florida on October 18, 1977. When they refueled in Greenville, South Carolina on the 20th, they compounded this error by believing they had more fuel than they really did. The airplane was also experiencing some mechanical difficulties which required the pilots to operate the right engine in the "auto-rich" position which burned fuel at an excessive rate. The combination of these problems resulted in nearly complete fuel exhaustion. The pilots changed course and headed for an airport near McComb, Mississippi but the plane stalled near Gillsburg, Mississippi and crashed in swampy woods.

Why was Ronnie's casket closed at his funeral?
Ronnie never wanted people "gawking" at his body. Judy remembered that he had always said that and wanted to respect his wishes. Over the past twenty years many rumors and stories have developed that have Ronnie being horribly disfigured or even decapitated in the crash. This is simply not true. Ronnie had one bruise roughly the size of a quarter on his temple. Other than that Judy and Lacy both recall him looking like he was simply asleep.

How many records have Lynyrd Skynyrd sold?
MCA Records estimates that Skynyrd has sold over 30 million records over the past twenty-five years. Skynyrd is MCA's number one catalog artist -- out-selling every other catalog artist on their roster including The Who. According to BMI, 'Freebird' has been played on the radio more than 2 million times and the song remains near the top of all radio surveys.

How much is a "flame-cover" Street Survivors worth?
Depending on condition, the "flame-cover" album is worth between 15 and 50 dollars, the 8-track around 100 dollars and the cassette around 250 dollars. Prices can vary greatly though.

What happened to Allen Collins?
In January 1986 Allen had just bought a new Ford Thunderbird and was driving near his home in Jacksonville, Florida when he lost control and flipped the car. His girlfriend was killed in the crash and Allen was paralyzed from the chest down. Allen later pled no contest to a DUI manslaughter charge. By September 1989, Allen's condition had deteriorated to the point that he had to enter the hospital where he contracted pneumonia. The drugs used to fight the pneumonia basically destroyed his liver and he passed away on January 23, 1990.

How is Ed King?
Ed King suffered massive heart failure on tour in 1995 which required him to retire from active touring with Skynyrd. Since then Ed has been on a strict diet and exercise program and he was placed on the national heart transplant list in January 1996. Although he is still on the list for a transplant, Ed and his doctors have been exploring an option where they slice away the damaged part of his heart and actually rebuild the muscle. You can get up-to-date information about Ed King at his website Ed King Official Website. The Lynyrd Skynyrd Website will gladly forward any correspondence you may have for Ed.

How many original members are still with Skynyrd?
There are currently two original members touring with the band -- guitarist Gary Rossington and keyboardist Billy Powell.

Who are the current members of Lynyrd Skynyrd?
Current members are guitarist Gary Rossington, keyboardist Billy Powell, vocalist Johnny VanZant (Ronnie's younger brother) guitarist Rickey Medlocke (who played drums with Skynyrd for a short time in 1971) from Blackfoot, bassist Ean Evans and drummer Michael Cartellone. Dale Krantz Rossington (from the Rossington Collins Band) and Carol Chase are singing background vocals.

Over the years how many different people have been members of Skynyrd?
Eighteen -- Ronnie VanZant, Gary Rossington, Allen Collins, Ed King, Billy Powell, Larry Junstrom, Leon Wilkeson, Bob Burns, Artimus Pyle, Steve Gaines, Rickey Medlocke, Custer, Hughie Thomasson, Randall Hall, Johnny VanZant, Mike Estes, Owen Hale and Jeff MacCallister. There have been eight backup singers -- Cassie Gaines, Leslie Hawkins, JoJo Billingsley, Dale Krantz Rossington, Carol Bristow, Debbie Bailey, Debbie Davis, and Carol Chase.

What kind of hat did Ronnie wear?
Ronnie had his distinctive hats made for him at Texas Hatters in Buda, Texas. Texas Hatters currently make a version of the hat that closely approximates the style Ronnie wore -- The Hi-Roller. This hat is made from 100% Beaver felt and costs $515.00 - $565.00 and includes the rattlesnake hat band. For more information please contact --
Texas Hatters
(512) 295-4287
Texas Hatters
Please let Texas Hatters know the Lynyrd Skynyrd History website referred you.

What was Ronnie's tattoo?
Ronnie's tattoo was an eagle with wings spread wide backed by a furled American flag. A scroll said "LACY".

What are Leslie Hawkins and Jo Jo Billingsley doing now?
Leslie is currently living in Jacksonville, FL with her husband, she has 2 children and 3 grandchildren. Jo Jo has a personal ministry where she testifies about her faith across the South. She lives in Alabama with her husband and 2 children. The Lynyrd Skynyrd Website will gladly forward any correspondence you may have for both Leslie and Jo Jo.

Why did Bob Burns leave the band?
The Freebird Foundation contacted Bob Burns to get his personal response to this question:

I left the band in 1974 because of my health. I wasn't feeling good or thinking good at that time. Ronnie never fired me and I never quit, but I just had to leave for my own sake. The touring, the recording, the constant motion was too much. I'm very proud of my contributions though. Even today when I listen to the radio and hear me, I can hardly believe it.

Was there a real Curtis Loew?
The inspiration for Curtis Loew was loosely based around the characters that lived near Ronnie's home on Jacksonville's Westside. The corner store in the song is based on Claude's Midway Grocery on the corner of Plymouth and Lakeshore in Jacksonville. While there wasn't a "real" Curtis Loew, there were many Curtis Loews in the neighborhood. The actual spelling of the name came when Ed was writing the liner notes for the Second Helping album in 1974. He thought it would be funny to name this old Florida black bluesman after the Jewish Loew's Theatre.

What's Artimus Pyle doing now?
Artimus is currently living in North Carolina, playing music with his own band, The Artimus Pyle Band, and making special guest appearances with other bands on occassion. You can get up-to-date information about Artimus at his website Artimus Pyle. The Lynyrd Skynyrd Website will gladly forward any correspondence you may have for Artimus.

The Lynyrd Skynyrd History Website Is Owned By Judy VanZant Jenness