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Marley Brant

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Publisher:  Billboard Books ISBN-10:  0823083217 Type: 


Copyright:  2004

Barnes &
Freebirds: The Lynyrd Skynyrd Story

An in-depth look at Southern Rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd

Based on one-on-one interviews with members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, their families, their friends, their business associates, and their fans, Freebirds: The Lynyrd Skynyrd Story examines the roots, evolution, and eventual emergence into world renown of one of the most hard rocking, hard living bands in music history – a group fueled by rock-and-roll fury but crippled by fate.

 Material for Freebirds was derived from such primary sources as interviews with past and present Skynyrd members Ed King, Johnny Van Zant, Artimus Pyle, Billy Powell, Rickey Medlocke, Leon Wilkeson, and Hughie Thomasson, as well as Ronnie Van Zant’s widow, Judy Jenness; Steve Gaines’ widow, Teresa Gaines Rapp; and musician friends such as .38 Special’s Donnie Van Zant and Jeff Carlisi; Marshall Tucker’s Doug Gray, Grinderswitch’s Dru Lombar, Charlie Daniels, Allman Brothers’ Warren Hayes and Allen Woody, and Al Kooper, the producer of the band’s first three albums. Also included are over 50 photos from the personal collections of the band, their friends and family members.   
Lynyrd Skynyrd has the reputation for being a rowdy, fist-fighting band but sometimes misfortune sought and found THEM:

*It didn't take long for Lynyrd Skynyrd to experience firsthand The Who's aggressive atmosphere. During the Cow Palace show, Billy Powell fell victim to an assault by both a security guard and the show's promoter. Powell had been in a hurry to get himself down in front of the stage during The Who's set so that he would be able to see the excitement up close. In his rush, Powell had failed to reveal his stage pass.

"[Legendary concert promoter] Bill Graham and [The Who's] bouncers started throwing these people over this fence that was in front of the stage," says Powell. "All these people that didn't have backstage passes hung aroung their necks. There was this seven-foot tall black guy throwing them over this fence. I was standing there right next to the stage, watching this happen. Then this guy comes to me, and gets ready to throw me. I went down to my knees. I had a coat on, I said, 'Hold it...I'm in the Skynyrd band.' I was trying to get my backstage pass out of my coat pocket, I wasn't wearing it. We were kind of getting in a fight there and I was finally back on my feet still trying to get the thing out of my pocket."

Powell wasn't fast enough. "Bill Graham came running down the stage, down this ramp from the stage, and punched me in the mouth," Billy remembers. "I mean with full momentum, Knocked me about ten feet. He knowcked me silly. I was bleeding everywhere, and I was about to pass out. I showed [the pass] to him, and he finally realized that [it was] people that were playing for Skynyrd he just hit." Apparently Graham didn't realize that the kid arguing with the security guard was actually a member of the opening act. "He apologized, swear to God, ten times, sent flowers, even after the tour he sent me flowers at home, apologizing. We became real good friends after that, laughed it off and all that."

Professional Reviews

The core of Lynyrd Skynyrd, the most important southern rock band after the Allman Brothers, perished in an airplane crash in 1977. The survivors persevered and, though long since written off by rock critics, still tour. Heck, they released a new album in 2000. Brant's well-researched yet folksy group biography is essential reading for those who would understand the spirit of rock and roll. Like the Allmans, Skynyrd broke into the rock scene in the early '70s just as its giants of the day descended into the cocaine-flecked doldrums. Like the punk rockers, the southern bands restored the music's energy and revived its fuck-you attitude; it never gets much more fuck-you than early Skynyrd. Famous for partying, brawling, and playing anyway, Skynyrd cut a wide swath. Brant names the names and tells the tales in a conversational, even chummy prose befitting a band that enjoys a community of fans and friends not unlike the Grateful Dead's zany Deadheads. Long overdue, this is the most complete chronicle of Skynyrd and its ambience to date. Mike Tribby

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