Saturday, October 22, 1977

Lynyrd Skynyrd members died in a plane crash: October 20, 1977

Originally posted October 20, 2011.

On October 27, 1977, the rock world suffered one of the most tragic losses in music history when a twin-engine, propeller-driven Convair 240 plane crashed in a wooded area near Gillsburg, Mississippi. The chartered plane out of Texas carried the members of Southern rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd. They were headed from a Greenville, South Carolina, show to another in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The reported cause of the crash was fuel shortage. Of the 26 passengers on board, six were killed. They included Lynyrd Skynyrd’s singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and his sister and backup singer Cassie Gaines. They were all 28 years old. The group’s assistant road manager, Dean Kirkpatrick was also among the dead. Walter Wiley McCreary and William John Gray, the pilot and co-pilot, were also killed. Others were critically injured.

Lynyrd Skynyrd formed in Jacksonville, Florida, when Van Zant played in high school with Gary Rossington and Allen Collins. They named their band after the Robert E. Lee High School’s physical education instructor Leonard Skinner as a means of getting even. He was not a fan of long hair and loud music and he played a hand in getting them suspended from school.


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