The band formed in Jacksonville, Florida as My Backyard in 1964 and comprised Ronnie Van Zant (lead vocalist), Gary Rossington (guitar), Allen Collins (guitar), Larry Junstrom (bass guitar) and Bob Burns (drums). They spent five years touring small venues under various names and with several line-up changes before deciding on Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1969.
The band released its first album in 1973, having settled on a line-up that included bassist Leon Wilkeson, keyboardist Billy Powell and guitarist Ed King. Burns left and was replaced by Artimus Pyle in 1974. King left in 1975 and was replaced by Steve Gaines in 1976.
At the height of their fame in the 1970s, the band popularized the Southern rock genre with songs such as Sweet Home Alabama and Free Bird. After releasing five studio albums and one live album, the band’s career was abruptly halted on October 20, 1977, when their chartered airplane crashed, killing Van Zant, Steve Gaines and backup singer Cassie Gaines, and seriously injuring the rest of the band.
Lynyrd Skynyrd reformed in 1987 for a reunion tour with Ronnie’s brother Johnny Van Zant as lead vocalist. They continue to tour and record with co-founder Rossington (the band’s sole continuous member), Johnny Van Zant and Rickey Medlocke, who first wrote and recorded with the band from 1971 to 1972 before his return in 1996.
In 2004 Rolling Stone magazine ranked Lynyrd Skynyrd No. 95 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 13, 2006.
To date the band has sold more than 28 million records in the United States and now become the latest addition to the Exclusive Radio roster.
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