When Lynyrd Skynyrd first climbed out of the Florida swamp and began honing their rock and roll sound in juke joints and biker bars, nobody yelled out "Free Bird!" at them. That only happened to every band--every single band-- that followed these "American Rolling Stones".
That famous nine minute /three guitar epic appears on their debut album Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd which was released in August of 1973. Thanks in part to an opening slot on The Who's Quadrophenia tour, Lynyrd Skynyrd quickly rose to fame, selling two million copies of Pronounced.
Lynyrd Skynyrd weaved the best things the South had to offer: blues, country, boogie and a "heritage not hate" pride in all things Southern.. (Naturally they went to Jacksonville's Robert E Lee High School). The songs are defiant, some are sentimental. All are ageless.
I always like to write something that helps you listen to albums in a new way. But I think I'll let the man who discovered Skynyrd , Al Kooper, take it from here. This is from one of those egregious Rolling Stone Magazine issues where they rank Eminem and Jay Z as greater artists than Talking Heads, Tom Petty or Lynyrd Skynyrd ( who ranked #95).
After three or four albums, Lynyrd Skynyrd transcended the Southern-rock tag. They became one of the greatest rock and roll bands in history. They feared no one. On their very first national tour, they opened for the Who. And got encores!
When Ronnie went down in that terrible 1977 plane crash, the forward progress of the band ended. After the survivors all healed, they miraculously reassembled. Ronnie's kid brother Johnny took over, and you had to rub your eyes to make sure it wasn't Ronnie. But while the band could duplicate the majesty of past live shows (and still can), the heart and soul of the band was gone forever.