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Gold & Platinum

After the surviving members of Lynyrd Skynyrd -- Gary, Allen, Billy, Leon and Artimus -- made their first post crash appearance at the Charlie Daniels Band Volunteer Jam in 1979, they knew they wanted to continue their dream of making music. They did not know, however, what vein or direction they should take the new band. Gary and Allen faced the difficult decision on whether to utilize other members of Lynyrd Skynyrd or start with fresh players. The survivors did know that the day they went back on the road remained far in the future as they faced months of grueling rehabilitation as they recovered from the tremendous injuries suffered in the plane crash.

Toward the end of 1979, Gary and Allen met in Jacksonville to discuss their options concerning the future. As they talked, Gary absently picked up Steve Gaines' gold-top Les Paul guitar -- Steve's widow, Teresa, gave him the instrument in early 1978. Sitting in a chair strumming the guitar, Gary noticed an old platinum dobro and thought, "Wow! Gold and platinum. At the time, Allen was talking about the need for a Skynyrd greatest hits album. Gary remembered, "Allen said, 'Let's get all the best songs and them out on a record.' So that's what we did. We came up with the cover, but it was kind of simple."

MCA rep Leon Tsilis insisted the name came about when he, Allen and Gary met at Allen's home to discuss a "Best of ..." album. At the time, their thoughts ran toward a Skynyrd greatest hits collection that would remind people of the band and introduce the public to their new efforts. Leon recalled the three of them looking at Allen's wall of Lynyrd Skynyrd RIAA awards, "I looked up and said, 'Christ, you guys got a lot of gold and platinum records up here.' And that's were it came from -- Gold & Platinum.

MCA records did not initially support the project. The Skynyrd catalog sales had drastically declined in the past year and the sales department felt the release of a best of compilation would kill the remaining single album sales. They argued MCA would never sell an original Second Helping or Street Survivors because the new Gold & Platinum would contain all the premium cuts.

Leon Tsilis took the case directly to MCA's president who reluctantly approved the project. Despite holds and release delays, the album was released. Gold & Platinum quickly went multi-platinum and had the added bonus of shooting the rest of the Skynyrd catalog back on the charts.

When recalling MCA's 1980 annual meeting, Leon Tsilis laughed at how he received several awards for providing the label with the album that made the year: "Everybody was patting me on the back and these were the same people who tried to stop the album from coming out."

Asked about MCA reluctance on the Gold & Platinum project, Gary Rossington bluntly replied, "Well, they're stupid, 'cause it just helped it, didn't it?"

The Lynyrd Skynyrd History Website Is Owned By Judy VanZant Jenness