Re-Gary Rossington/Lynyrd Skynyrd

RIP Gary Rossington.

Lynyrd Skynyrd have always been a favourite with me.

After The John and Tony Smith business broke up they were the very first band I promoted in January 1976.

One of the best and most memorable was when they played the Rainbow in Finsbury Park.

It was their first show in London and the audience went ballistic with joy.

When they finally finished Free Bird followed by Sweet Home Alabama it was the audience who were exhausted from cheering.

The band were on a real high so Bill Curbishley and I decided to take them out to dinner and chose a favourite Greek Restaurant.

At first the band were a bit sheepish until they saw the manager bring a stack of plates to the next table for the guests to smash to great music and bottles of Retsina which was the Greek custom.

When the manager of the restaurant then came to our table the bands eyes nearly popped out.

They had clearly never seen the spectacle before and proceeded to smash every single plate in the restaurant and drank nearly the total cellar of Retsina’s.

It was one of those nights that I will never forget…. Nor will my Bank Manager !!!!

Without doubt one of the most exciting bands ever on stage

Harvey Goldsmith.


My favorite Skynyrd story. Fey and I put together a stadium show co bill of Skynyrd and Marshall Tucker at Mile High Stadium in the mid 70’s. The bands did not get a long and fought over who would close. We came up with idea of one band closing the afternoon part then a break then the other band closed the evening part. Other bands on the show were Atlanta Rhythm Section, Foreigner, Heart and Outlaws among others. The radio spot had to be total equal billing. Skynyrd was bigger then so we made them bigger in the spots (promoters could get away with a lot of stuff then). One of  Tucker’s friends living in Boulder heard the spot and called their manager. The manager called really upset and I said not true and I would fly the next  morning with the radio spots to play him in person. Had my spot guy stay up all night making new spots and I flew to Spartanburg to play him the phony spots which he was fine with of course after he heard them. Crazy times in early rock and roll.

Chuck Morris – Chairman Emeritus


In the mid-70s I was on the staff of UK music weekly Sounds and assigned to do a story on Lynyrd Skynyrd.

I joined them in Glasgow at the Albany Hotel (the only place musicians stayed). We were the only people sitting in the dining lounge. At the end of the room was a low stage and a keyboard and mics. After awhile a guy and girl combo climbed on to the stage and started to play in a very Carpenters style. Not brilliant, not terrible, an ordinary hotel band.

As soon as they started Ronnie Van Zandt and Gary Rossington paid attention and listened to them and at the end of each song applauded. Then the record company lady made a disparaging comment about the playing. Instantly Ronnie spun on her and with real anger said, “They’re musicians. They’re working. You show them respect.”

It was a really eye opening comment and one I have tried to follow to this day.

All the best,

John Ingham


I was the tour accountant for Southern rock artists Molly Hatchet in the 80s. We had the honor of opening or sharing bills for many of the bands idols and heroes including Lynyrd Skynyrd , Rossington Collins Band , Allman Brothers  Band, Outlaws , Charlie Daniels Band , 38 Special as well as other many others. I spent much time in their home base of Jacksonville , Florida . What I learned is that their creed was to not only play hard and live hard but also work hard .

These musicians were the sons of the returning veterans of World War II and brought with them a work ethic that included always giving everything you had and your band mates and crew were your brothers . Quitting  or not going on and giving the best show you could to the people who bought tickets was never an option . They lived by a code . It’s hard to see it now but when you look back at the career Gary Rossington had and how he sustained , always came back and succeeded  over all these years it’s easy to see how and why . RIP Gary.

Stephen Mr Magoo Grossman

San Antonio TX


My two Lynyrd Skynyrd stories:

I moved to Atlanta in 1971 and lived in the heart of the infamous Peachtree Strip during its peak years. There was a club down the street called Funochios where a band called Lynyrd Skynyrd played nightly.

So the band Focus comes to town to perform at the Omni. The arena fills up, and at showtime, the house lights are still on – and there’s NO equipment on the stage. An announcer finally comes on and says that Focus’ truck broke down in Tennessee and that they wouldn’t be making it to the show. However, they said everyone will receive a refund and can also stay and watch the opening act for free! The opening act was that band that could be seen 5 nights a week at that club on Peachtree – Lynyrd Skynyrd. Everyone groaned and left. Nobody stayed.

My other encounter with Lynyrd Skynyrd was way cooler. I didn’t have a car at the time, and like many others in those days, I hitchhiked everywhere. I had my guitar with me, case in hand, and was hitchhiking home on Peachtree when this van full of longhairs picked me up. I got in the side door and sat on the floor in the back. Up front was the band – Lynyrd Skynyrd! They said they picked me up because they wanted to see my guitar (my 335), which I took out of the case and passed it up front and which they played.

I still have that guitar.

RIP Gary Rossington.

Mark Towns


Years ago, I wrote and directed a sketch starring the fellas from Skynyrd for a show called “The Soup”. Gary was out of his comfort zone, but he settled in and had a blast (and was hilarious to boot). Here’s the clip if anyone’s interested in seeing a different side of him. May he rest in peace.

Lee Farber


Re: Gary Rossington: I grew up in 1970’s Florida – Skynyrd was to us what Bruce Springsteen is to New Jersey!

Vince Welsh

Teacher Education Institute, Inc.


Pronounced ‘Leh-‘Nerd ’Skin-’Nerd was the first record I ever bought (at Strawberries Records).  Pretty sure it was my older sisters Prom song in ’73. I was hooked – the Allmans were the cool guys and LS were the bad ass version.  And they were LOUD.  I saw them open for The Who at the Boston Garden and left after their set.  How could anything beat that?  Saw the original band five times.  When Street Survivors was released on a Tuesday, I hitchhiked home from college in Vermont to buy it.  Two days later it was all over.  I continued to follow the survivors and like the RC Band and while they were really good, it was not the same.  A good friend took me to see Bad Company and LS in New Hampshire a few years ago (I really like Paul Rogers and had never seen him live – he still belts it out).  They were good and we left early.  Not the same.

You were spot on re losing our heroes at a very uncomfortable pace.  At least I still have my original vinyl.

Thanks again for another stellar history trip.

Mike Colbourn


Thanks for all your amazing work, Bob. I’ve enjoyed it through the years. Decades ago, not long before the Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash, I went on the road with the band to write about them for, of all publications, ‘TEEN Magazine.

Besides being a brilliant musician, Gary Rossington was a super-cool guy who invited me in and kept an eye on me.  I was grateful to him, am so sad to learn of his passing. The guy had a beautiful heart and soul.

A few months ago I performed an account of my time with Gary, Ronnie, and the rest of the band and thought I’d share it with you.

Kind regards,

Marina Muhlfriedel


Being from Alabama, I like to tell people that Sweet Home Alabama is the unofficial national anthem. You can be practically anywhere in the world, and not even be from Alabama, but when it comes on in a bar you’ll sing along.

Peter Gilbert


I worked with Lynrd skynyrd when I was pr director at mca – they were rowdy but great to deal with – respectful and professional with me – I am sad  – carol Ross


My first concert was Firefall, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Doobie Brothers at the Nassau Coliseum, before the plane crash. Even though the Doobies were headlining, you couldn’t walk 50 feet in my school at the time without hearing Freebird.

Everyone was there to see Skynyrd, and they delivered. I was lucky to have such a great first concert. After Skynyrd,  the Doobies were a bit of a let-down, and we left in the middle of their set, along with half the crowd.

In retrospect, it seems a little weird that a bunch of middle-class suburban kids on Long Island loved Southern rock so much, but Skynyrd rocked their asses off, which is all that matters when you’re in high school. We also loved (and saw live) Marshall Tucker Band, Charlie Daniels, The Outlaws, and of course The Allman Brothers. We loved all kinds of rock, from Aerosmith to Zep, but Southern rock was a big part of it. What a great time to grow up.


Perry Resnick


Recall gong to see Rossington Collins band in Binghamton in summer between my freshman and sophomore year at Syracuse Uni. Had a girlfriend at Uni that lived there. Told me she was pregnant when I got there after drive from my parents house in Long Island.. . Won’t forget that trip! Thank God she decided to exercise her Roe v Wade rights or I would have a 42 year old kid now, probably be a grandfather too. But no way I could have dealt with being a dad at 19!

Brian Barry Esq.


Hey Bob, The time I saw Skynyrd playing the Santa Monica Civic during the early or mid 70’s was maybe my most favorite concert ever. I told my friend I went with before hand about the 3 lead guitar players with one being better than the other. They did not disappoint.  I can still visualize myself there taking it all in.

Please note, Before the Santa Monica Civic show I saw Skynyrd’s last few songs as I walked into the forum on a rainy Thanksgiving night.  They were the opening act for The Who.  I said to myself, these guys are good!  That was the beginning of my love affair with them.  I still remember the night hearing the News of the plane crash and the feeling of being crushed.

Besides their records still being available there are also various videos on YouTube available.  They were one Bad Band!

Tracy Weber


In 20 years, just about all of them will be dead. Jagger, Elton John, McCartney, Tina Turner, Lionel Richie, you name it. So many of the rock stars and musicians that burst onto the scene in the 60s and early 70s, we’re all about the same age give or take. The list is going to be staggering.

That said, Lynyrd Skynyrd was the first concert I ever went to. December 31, 1976 in Oakland.

Journey opened up… When journey was a hard rock band with incredible musical sensibilities. Before that whiny Pop singer guy joined them.

Anyway, the Skynyrd crowd was hard-core. Rowdy, ready to party, and the band was exciting on stage. Not in a Rolling Stones k I’mmd of way but the anticipation of free Bird and the songs flat out rocked.

As I got older I learned to appreciate them not so much as a southern rock band but it has a rhythm and blues band, very much like the Rolling Stones

If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?

We will until we can remember no more

Jimmy Becker


Probably because the manager of the reformed Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charlie Brusco, was from Pittsburgh, we became a hotspot here for the late 1980s rebirth of the live band. Charile is what we call a Yinzer. You can take a Yinzer of out of Pittsburgh but you can’t take the Pittsburgh out of the Yinzer. Charlie knew “The Burg” and he figured it was a good launch point.


We sold out shows at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena that I managed and then when I went to run Star Lake Amphitheater outside of town, we did many sellouts there, capped by the LYVE FROM STEEL TOWN double record in 1997. We also helped Charlie with secondary market shows in rust towns like Wheeling and Johnstown.


Maybe it was because we were so close to West Virginia (you could practically walk to Weirton from the amphitheater). Maybe it was because WDVE was so powerful if it got behind something, it would sell well (witness Steve Miller sellouts when he wasn’t doing any of that kind of business anywhere). The guys who ran WDVE were smart; Pittsburgh was an aging market and better to accent classic rock bands than to be too reliant on new music. Maybe it was the revisionist pre-woke things where shows like THE DUKES OF HAZZARD and movies like SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT romanticized the old South and Skynyrd with the gigantic Rebel flag unfurling as they hit the stage fed off of that. Maybe it was because the music was so good and we left ‘what if-ing’ in terms of what they had left to share with us.


If I might a personal note, my 15-year-old son at the time, Josh, idolized the band. Couldn’t get enough. One weekday night in Wheeling, he begged to go the show. His mom said no. School night. We made a deal. Homework would be done in catering. Josh was too wound up. Gary Rossington and Johnny Van Zandt got wind. Gary came to Josh’s table. “Josh, your dad won’t let us go on ‘til you finish that homework…what kind of damn math is that anyway?” Josh got it done and the band played on.

Tom Rooney


I had the pleasure of working with Skynyrd four times, producing three TV concerts and a live King Biscuit CD – which is a story in and of itself.  While to me Gary had a bad boy exterior, I found him to be a gentle and kind soul when I worked with him. He was a true gentleman to me.


As a side gig, I am the co-owner of a bar in Long Island where I book the mostly classic rock bands on the weekends.  Whenever a band rips into a Skynyrd song, the place lights up.  No one dares touch Freebird, but they light up the house with Alabama, Gimme, That Smell, Simple Man.  Their music still sounds fresh, I think it will always be vital to our music landscape.


Barry Ehrmann

Enliven Entertainment


Gary Rossington was a real Rock Star giant when I first started playing guitar at 13. His cool hair, cool jackets, and smoldering slow-hand Les Paul bends full of swagger taught me to play guitar. I dropped the record player needle 10,000+ times learning those early Lynyrd Skynyrd records. Even my first amp, that I bought while working at a car wash at 14, was a Peavey Mace with a 412 cab, just like the amps on the cover photo of One More From The Road.

During high school my denim blue notebook had Lynyrd Skynyrd scrawled in ink pen across the front as I cried walking to school the day of their plane crash. Never saw the original band but was able to see the Rossington Collins Band melt the stage in Mobile AL. From 16, 17, 18 years of age I’m playing my Les Paul Custom plugged into my Peavey Mace turned up loud rockin’ Skynyrd tunes in the FL panhandle. Every night the endless clubs and biker bars were filled with patrons roaring with applause (plus endless shots sent to the stage!) hearing Sweet Home Alabama, Simple Man, Gimme Three Steps, Call Me The Breeze, Needle and The Spoon, and Free Bird.

Those late 70’s musical moments and songs carried me to my future touring with Ronnie Montrose, Buddy Miles, Double Trouble, Colin Hay + others. Gary Rossington gave me so much and now his musical influence lives on forever in my heart and soul. And so tonight, in his honor, I touch my fingertips to the strings and like always there’s a sparkling flash as Gary Rossington’s souful swagger jets across the universe. I can feel it, I can hear it, and I want to Turn It Up!

Greg Vorobiov


Good on ya Bob
Skynyrd was the stuff
My friend Chris Rugulo has been their stage tech for decades.
Can we get a shout out to a true rock and roll war dog?
Chris Rugulo is one of the best and a beautiful kind heart at that!
And yes Bob you are el correcto, The band was the epitome of justall of us in the 70s trying to make it.

Robert Xeno


I was there.  For history.  I was at the launch party for Al’s Sounds of the South label, at Richard’s in Atlanta, where Mose Jones opened with a gritty set, followed by Elijah (not memorable), and then…Skynyrd, whom none of us had ever heard or heard of.  One by one, song by song, table by table, everyone stopped eating, stopped, drinking, stopped talking and by the end of their set everyone was standing on their chairs or even tables, watching something we all knew was special. We all knew.

I saw them many more times, got to know them a bit, and, miraculously, was hired to be their indie PR for the “Gimme Back My Bullets” and “One More From The Road” albums and tours.  “Bullets” wasn’t their best work, following Ed King’s and Al Kooper’s departure, but it has aged surprisingly well.  That live album, recorded at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, is a tour de force, showing a band really coming into it’s own and featuring new third guitarist Steve Gaines (who I’d known previously when he was with Mitch Ryder’s Detroit, having replaced Steve Hunter).  His sister Cassie was one of the Skynyrd backing singers, the Honkettes, and she and I both lobbied to get Steve an audition with the band.  I’m sure Cassie’s lobbying was taken far more seriously than mine.  But Steve fit in incredibly well instantaneously, despite not being from Jacksonville.

This was not a “southern rock band.”  They were a real rock band, with influences from far and wide, including especially the guitar-driven British blues-rock bands.  They were exactly what you saw – no artifice.  I have so many great memories of time spent with them.  Ronnie asked me once why I didn’t drink with them, and I replied “someone has to be sober enough to write it all down after the fighting stops.”  I got them a Kirshner Rock Awards award for helping preserve that legendary Fox Theatre, and Leon Wilkeson sang his acceptance remarks.  Watching those three guitars soar and their interplay was magical.

I was driving into Chicago after seeing Talking Heads at the B.Ginnings club out in the suburbs late one night when I heard the plane crash news on the radio and nearly drove off the road. I spent the night helping field press inquiries and getting no sleep, postponing my meeting the following day over at Mercury Records.  Not just Ronnie, but Steve AND Cassie, and road manager Dean Kilpatrick.

I went to their one real reunion tour after the crash, at Universal Amphitheatre, where they ended with an instrumental version of “Free Bird.”  And it was really haunting.  I didn’t even go backstage to see them, it was just too much to handle, really.

Second drummer Artimus Pyle, who was there for all the glory days and walked away from the plane crash, is still with us, on his own and long-exiled from the band; I was really happy to visit with him on a classic rock cruise several years ago.

I saw the “If I Leave Her Tomorrow” documentary the night it premiered on Showtime, and, wow, it’s really good.  No talking heads of any managers, agents, etc.  Just the voices of the band and Ronnie’s widow Judy, and featuring Gary throughout, taking us all on a tour of their Jacksonville roots.  If you haven’t seen it, you really should.

Gary’s heart problems were ongoing and well-documented these past few years, and so I made a special trip to Las Vegas a few years ago to see them and to see him before an iHeart Radio Festival show there, and our visit was short, but, to me, so meaningful.

I really felt attached to that band and those guys.  A little part of me died with Gary last night when I heard the news.

I’ve worked with other artists who’ve died – Billy Murcia, the original NY Dolls drummer, when I was working with them before they signed to Mercury.  Sandy West, the Runaways’ drummer, long after the band had broken up.  And John Lennon.  That night was brutal too, so completely shockingly unexpected.

We knew Gary was living on borrowed time, with his weakening heart..  They all had been, the survivors of that plane crash, and one by one, we’ve lost them all (except Artimus); yes, others survived including tour manager Ron Eckerman and sister Honkette Leslie Hawkins (who I had a major crush on).  But the finality hearing the news yesterday hit hard.  How could it not?

Toby Mamis

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