Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Last Founding Member Passes Away

    Guitarists Allen Collins (left) and Gary Rossington of the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd perform at the Orange Bowl during the Holiday Jam ’74 Music Festival on July 7, 1974. The festival featured, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Eagles, The Band and headliner Leon Russell. Rossington was the band’s last remaining founding member. He was 71 years old.

    The Jacksonville-based group was known as one of the giants of Southern rock in the 1970s and had a number of hit songs including “Sweet Home Alabama”, “Simple Man” and the Southern rock anthem “Free Bird”. The group was named after their gym teacher Leonard Skinner at Jacksonville’s Robert E. Lee High School. Photo by John Gellman.

    On October 20, 1977, band members Ronnie Van Zant along with Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines and assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick were killed in a horrific plane crash in Mississippi. Other band members (Collins, Rossington, Leon Wilkeson, Billy Powell, Artimus Pyle, and Hawkins), tour manager Ron Eckerman and road crew suffered serious injuries. To read more stories about the Orange Bowl, visit us on Facebook at


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