Ronnie Van Zant PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 30 June 2010 15:18

Ronald Wayne "Ronnie" Van Zant

Born: January 15, 1948, Jacksonville, Florida,

Died: October 20, 1977, Gillsburg, Mississippi,

Age: 29

Cause of death:  Plane crash.

Notable because: Wrote and sang 'Sweet Home Alabama' and 'Free Bird'.

Ronnie Van Zant was the lead vocalist, primary lyricist, and a founding member of the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. He was the older brother of the founder and vocalist of the 38 Special, Donnie Van Zant, and of current Lynyrd Skynyrd lead vocalist Johnny Van Zant.

Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, to Lacy (1915-2004) and Marion (1929-2000) Van Zant. Van Zant aspired to be many things before finding his love for music. Notably, Ronnie was interested in becoming a boxer (as Muhammad Ali was one of his idols) and in playing professional baseball. Ronnie also tossed around the idea of becoming a stock-car racer. In fact, he would say that he was going to be the most famous person to come out of Jacksonville since Lee Roy Yarbrough.

Van Zant formed Skynyrd late in the summer of 1964 with friends and schoolmates Allen Collins (guitar), Gary Rossington (guitar), Larry Junstrom (bass), and Bob Burns (drums). Lynyrd Skynyrd's name was inspired by a gym teacher the boys had in high school, Leonard Skinner, who disapproved of male students with long hair.

The band's national exposure began in 1973 with the release of their debut album, which has a string of hits and fan favorites including: "I Ain't the One", "Tuesday's Gone", "Gimme Three Steps", "Simple Man," and their signature song, "Free Bird", which he later dedicated to the late Duane Allman of The Allman Brothers Band.

Lynyrd Skynyrd's biggest hit single, although "Free Bird" was a close second, was "Sweet Home Alabama" which came off the album Second Helping. "Sweet Home Alabama" was an answer song to Neil Young's "Alabama" and "Southern Man." The common belief that Van Zant and Young were rivals is incorrect; they were actually fans of each other and considered collaborating on several occasions. Young's song "Powderfinger" on the 1979 album Rust Never Sleeps was reportedly written for Skynyrd, and Van Zant is pictured on the cover of Street Survivors wearing a T-shirt of Young's Tonight's the Night.

On October 20, 1977, a Convair 240 carrying the band between shows from Greenville, South Carolina to Baton Rouge, Louisiana crashed outside of Gillsburg, Mississippi. The passengers had been informed about problems and told to brace for impact. Van Zant died in the crash. Bandmates Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary, and co-pilot William Gray were also killed. Remaining band members survived, although all were seriously injured.

Van Zant's younger brother, Johnny, took over as the new lead singer when the band reunited in 1987.

Van Zant was buried in Orange Park, Florida in 1977, but was relocated after vandals broke into his and bandmate Steve Gaines' tombs on June 29, 2000. Van Zant's casket was pulled out and dropped on the ground. The bag containing Gaines' ashes was torn open and some scattered onto the grass. Their mausoleums at Orange Park remain as memorials for fans to visit.

According to the cemetery listing website Find-a-Grave, Van Zant was reburied at Riverside Memorial Park in Jacksonville, near the grave of his father Lacy and mother Marion. Both his current resting place and the empty mausoleum in Orange Park are listed. The following statement was made on the Find-a-Grave entry of his current resting place in Jacksonville: "Due to the June 29th, 2000 vandalization of his original grave site, his casket was moved to this new location and buried in a massive underground concrete burial vault. To open the vault would require a tractor with a lift capacity of several tons. It is also patrolled by security."

 

"To me, there's nothing freer than a bird, you know, just flying wherever he wants to go. And, I don't know, that's what this country is all about, being free. I think everyone wants to be a free bird."
—Ronnie Van Zant, spoken during an interview while fishing.

 

Ronnie Van Zant Tribute Men's Black T-Shirt (Medium)

Offers - Buy New From: $9.99
Buy Now

Reviews



Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ronnie Van Zant, and Me ... Gene Odom

Author: Scott Coner
Manufacturer: iUniverse
Amazon Price: $12.95
Offers - Buy New From: $8.49 Used From: $7.98
Buy Now
Editorial Review: During a time when toughskin blue jeans, button-down shirts, and flat-top haircuts were all the rage, Gene Odom and Ronnie Van Zant became best friends. Growing up on the same block, Ronnie and Gene fished, played football, and dreamed together. Years later, one of the boys would become famous-and the other would stand by his side through thick and thin. This is the story of two young men from the same neighborhood, school, and world who together, discovered the meaning of true friendship.

As Ronnie's dreams of becoming a professional musician finally became a reality, Lynyrd Skynyrd began selling out arenas and became famous for not only their music, but also their substance abuse. After Ronnie offered Gene a job as a security officer for the band, he embarked on an unforgettable journey into a world like no other. But everything would change in October 1977 when the plane carrying the band plummeted from the sky.

Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ronnie Van Zant, and Me ... Gene Odom provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it was like to be friends with one of the biggest rock stars of the 1970s and how a friendship between two childhood buddies stood the test of time.



Reviews



Ronnie Van Zant Lynryd Skynryd T Shirt XL Black

Manufacturer: TeesGo
Amazon Price: $26.99
Offers - Buy New From: $26.99
Buy Now
Editorial Review: 100 Percent ECO Cotton,No Shrinking.\r\nMachine Wash,Color Wont Fade After Washing.\r\nBelieve That The T-shirt Will Be The Best Idea For Yourself,family,friends.


Reviews



Ronnie Van Zant Poster 13x19" Black And White Print

Manufacturer: Mile High Media
Amazon Price: $13.97
Offers - Buy New From: $13.97
Buy Now
Editorial Review: Printed on luster finish lab quality paper. All of our posters are shipped in a very durable tube mailer, to insure its protection. Perfect size for college dorm rooms, home office, small apartments, and man caves.


Reviews



Gimme Three Steps

Author: Allen Larkin Collins
Manufacturer: OnlineSheetMusic.com

Buy Now
Editorial Review:

Digital Sheet Music of Gimme Three Steps

Composed by: Allen Larkin Collins;Ronnie Van Zant

Performed by: Lynyrd Skynyrd



Reviews



Last Updated on Friday, 22 June 2012 07:46
 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

Who's Online

We have 51 guests online