FREEBIRD... THE MOVIE
In many ways the Lynyrd Skynyrd band returned to its roots during the last weekend of 1995. Atlanta, Georgia, the scene of so many of the band's triumphs -- from their first tentative trips to the “big city” in the 1960s, to being discovered at the legendary Funochio's in 1973, to recording the classic live album, One More From The Road in 1976 -- once again hosted the band for one of the most important events in the history of Lynyrd Skynyrd: Freebird... The Celebration. This weekend of events coinciding with the premiere of the long-awaited vintage concert film, Freebird... The Movie, brought together the band, the fans, and the legend into one terrific history-making celebration held at the Fox Theatre.
Freebird... The Jam kicked off the festivities on Thursday night. Featuring more than forty different artists running the gamut from rock to country, the sold-out Jam truly was one of those once in a lifetime opportunities. Hosted by Charlie Daniels, who set the tone of the evening by burning through the opener ‘The South's Gonna Do It Again', the Jam united present and former band members, friends and admirers into one incredible concert.
Almost four hours long, the concert was set up to showcase the artists differently than most fans get a chance to see them. This was not a standard Skynyrd show -- in fact the actual, current Lynyrd Skynyrd band only played one song together all night. Special guests and unique songs ruled the night. One of the early highlights came just three songs into the setlist. Featuring Jack Hall on Wet Willie's classic ‘Leona', the crowd wet crazy when original Honkettes, Leslie Hawkins and JoJo Billingsley came out and sang background vocals. This was the first time many Skynyrd fans had ever got the chance to hear the talent of these two ladies live.
At the end of legendary producer and player Al Kooper's set, several members of Skynyrd came out to jam. The crowd's response grew as first Billy and then Leon walked out, then increased even more when Gary came onstage, but the Fox Theatre nearly exploded when Bob Burns sat down behind his drums. This historical event marked the first time in twenty-one years that Skynyrd's original drummer played onstage with Lynyrd Skynyrd. Later, towards the end of the show Bob and Artimus both played with Skynyrd on the all-time classic, 'Gimme Three Steps'.
Other incredible highlights of the unforgettable jam include Donnie VanZant and Jeff Carlisi's moving version of 'Four Walls of Raiford' done the way Ronnie and Jeff originally recorded the song and 'Don't Misunderstand Me' performed by Dale Krantz Rossington and Jam organizer Jim Jenness. Few other concert events in the history of rock could match the emotion of .38 Special's 'Rebel to Rebel' followed by Johnny's first live performance of 'Brickyard Road' since 1990.
Freebird... The Jam turned into one of those events that will be remembered forever in the history of Lynyrd Skynyrd!! The Jam also served as the perfect introduction to the premiere of Freebird... The Movie on Friday December 29th.
This long-awaited concert film of the original Lynyrd Skynyrd band live blew everyone away. The film turned out just as good as everyone had hoped and dreamed. The sentiment had never run so high as when the lights dimmed and the curtain rose on the debut of one of the best vintage concert films ever made. The classic footage of the band at Knebworth looks and sounds better than can be imagined, and the very special, very emotional footage taken by longtime crew member Craig Reed left everyone with tears in their eyes.
Soon Freebird... The Movie will play across the country. Cabin Fever has been screening the film for a variety of distribution companies and plan to make a decision on whether to market the film themselves or license it to a distribution company around the first of May. And home video and laser disc sales will start around the first of the year. This film is what every fan has wanted since first hearing the unforgettable sound of the Lynyrd Skynyrd band. It doesn't matter if that fan first heard the band at the Sugar Bowl Club in 1969 or on the radio last year, this is the film we've been waiting for.
The Soundtrack for Freebird... The Movie wsa released on August 13th to a tremendous response and the first theatres received the film later that same week.