Music by Turner: Everyone needs a little six-pack of Skynyrd classics

Fans will have a chance to turn it up with Lynyrd Skynyrd when the band performs Friday, April 12, as the headliner for day three of the Columbia County Championship Festival.


The show starts at 7 p.m. at Evans Towne Center Park, 7016 Evans Town Center Blvd. Tickets are $40 in advance and $55 at the gate from ColumbiaCounty

Lynyrd Skynyrd began
as The Noble Five in their native Jacksonville, Fla. Led by vocalist Ronnie Van Zant along with guitarists Allen Collins, Ed King and Gary Rossington, the band gigged incessantly throughout the South before being discovered at an Atlanta nightclub called Funnochio’s by musician and producer Al Kooper.

After recording its first album, the group was pegged to open for The Who on its Quadrophenia Tour in 1973. The tour won the band rave reviews from fans and critics alike.

The devastating plane crash in 1977 that claimed the lives of three members of the band led to a 10-year hiatus for Skynyrd.

Ronnie Van Zant’s younger brother Johnny took over the vocal duties, and the band continued to do well on the road.

The reconstituted versions of the band have recorded nine studio albums, two more than the original band did.

The current lineup has some familiar names. In addition to original guitarist Rossington and vocalist Van Zant, Rickey Medlocke (who was in the band during its “pre-fame” years and later founded the group Blackfoot), bassist Johnny Colt (Black Crowes) and drummer Michael Cartellone (Damn Yankees) are seasoned road warriors.

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s most recent studio offering was Last of a Dyin’ Breed, which was released last year. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.

So, in tribute to the band’s Masters Week performance, here’s a look at the Essential Six-Pack of Skynyrd.


1. PRONOUNCED LYNYRD SKYNYRD (AUGUST 1973). The band’s official debut included eight great songs that were recorded over a two-month span by Kooper (Blood Sweat and Tears founder and ex-Dylan sideman), who discovered the band in Atlanta.

Five of the seven members contributed to the writing of the disc, which is considered their best work by many. Gimme Three Steps, Tuesday’s Gone, Simple Man, and Free Bird remain staples of the band’s set lists to this very day. Free Bird wasn’t a hit until 15 months later and only climbed to No. 19 on the charts.

There’s fine guitar interplay from Allen Collins, Ed King, and Gary Rossington throughout this astounding disc.


2. SECOND HELPING (APRIL 1974). This one was released a scant nine months after the first album. Skynyrd had been touring practically nonstop promoting its debut, but MCA, the band’s record label, wanted a second record … and fast.

It holds another eight standards from the band, including its biggest hit single ever, Sweet Home Alabama. Album tracks such as Don’t Ask Me No Questions, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, and Skynyrd’s sterling cover of JJ Cale’s Call Me the Breeze helped to firmly establish the group’s reputation as one of the hottest acts in the country.

Second Helping also includes a sardonic ode to the band’s record label bosses, Workin’ for MCA.


3. NUTHIN’ FANCY (MARCH 1975). It’s funny that Skynyrd suffered a “sophomore jinx” on its third LP rather than on the second. It’s very obvious that the band’s well of original material was running a bit dry on this one, as it’s very difficult to write while on the road because of so many, ahem, “outside distractions.”

Still, Saturday Night Special begins the proceedings quite nicely, giving the band its third top-40 hit in the process. Other tunes such as Whiskey Rock and Roller and Made in the Shade were received very well by fans and critics alike.

4. GIMME BACK MY BULLETS (FEBRUARY 1976). Uh-oh … this time the gun is not fully loaded. The band brought in veteran producer Tom Dowd (Ray Charles, The Allman Brothers, and Derek and the Dominos) to invigorate the group, now with just two lead guitarists (Allen Collins and Gary Rossington) instead of three. As with Nuthin’ Fancy, the material just isn’t as strong as it is on the first two albums.

Double Trouble and the title song did not do much on the single charts, and the album did not sell nearly as well as the first three. Collins wrote or co-wrote seven of the nine tunes on the disc, which also included another JJ Cale song, I Got the Same Old Blues.


5. ONE MORE FROM THE ROAD (SEPTEMBER 1976). Wow! Every time I go to the Fox Theatre in Atlanta I can’t help but think of this sensational live set that was recorded there during that unforgettable bicentennial summer of 1976. What a difference a Gaines makes … with that being the much-needed addition of Steve Gaines on third lead guitar. This two-disc collection has 13 numbers from the group’s first four discs and one terrific cover, Jimmie Rodgers’ T for Texas. The song Gimme Back my Bullets was not performed at this concert as the band got tired of fans throwing ammo at them whenever they played it. This one’s a fine party album!


6. STREET SURVIVORS (OCTOBER 1977). Released just three days after the plane crash, Street Survivors is easily the band’s best studio effort since its first two releases. Street Survivors is chock full of Southern rock at its best. Ronnie Van Zant and the band jelled well with Gaines in the fold, as the “new guy” is brought to the fore yet again.

Gaines’ and Van Zant’s co-lead on You Got That Right garnered the band another hit single, and What’s Your Name earned an unlucky No. 13 placing on the charts. Gaines also wrote the uptempo fave I Know a Little and was featured on lead vocals on his own composition Ain’t No Good Life.

That Smell, with lyrics written by Ronnie in response to Rossington and Collins’ automobile accidents during the recording of the disc, received as much airplay as the two hit singles.

Unfortunately, the lyrics “tomorrow might not be here for you” were dead on the money.

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WHO: Lynyrd Skynyrd

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, April 12

WHERE: Evans Towne Center Park, 7016 Evans Town Center Blvd.

TICKETS: $40 advance, $55 at the gate; ColumbiaCounty

MORE EVENTS: The Skynyrd concert wraps up the inaugural Columbia County Championship Festival. Before that, a family day on Wednesday, April 10, kicks off the festival with events from noon-8 p.m. Admission is free. On Thursday, a Chris Young concert begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $27.50 in advance and $35 at the gate.