Lynyrd Skynyrd

checks out the un­mis­tak­able style of Free­bird and Sweet Home Alabama’s le­gends of south­ern rock, Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Guitar Techniques - - LESSON - Martin Cooper

Lynyrd Skynyrd formed in Jack­sonville, Florida in 1964 with the moniker My Back­yard. They went through var­i­ous name changes be­fore set­tling on Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1969.

Af­ter play­ing through­out Florida to sell-out crowds, the band was dis­cov­ered by song­writer and record pro­ducer Al Kooper. Kooper pro­duced their de­but al­bum, Pro­nounced ‘Leh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd, fea­tur­ing Ron­nie Van Zant on lead vo­cals, gui­tarists Gary Ross­ing­ton and Allen Collins, and Ed King on bass (Leon Wilke­son had left prior to the al­bum be­ing recorded, but re­joined soon af­ter). Drum­mer Bob Burns and keysman Billy Pow­ell com­pleted the line-up. Collins also stayed on as a third gui­tarist for their live shows. The al­bum fea­tured the south­ern rock style for which the band be­came known, and has been listed at num­ber 403 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Great­est Al­bums Of All Time, sell­ing over two mil­lion copies along the way.

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s mu­si­cal style is a blend of coun­try and blues mixed with a lit­tle bit of Bri­tish rock, and they have been at the fore­front of the south­ern rock genre since help­ing to de­fine it four decades ago. The band’s early pro­file was not hurt by play­ing sup­port to The Who on their Quadrophe­nia tour.

The band con­tin­ued to write and record through­out the 70s. And al­though suc­cess had be­gun to slide some­what they still played to large crowds and were sched­uled to head­line Madi­son Square Gar­den in 1977 when tragedy struck af­ter three mem­bers, in­clud­ing lead singer and founder Ron­nie Van Zant were killed in a plane crash prior to the Madi­son Gar­dens gig. Back­ing vo­cal­ist Cassie Gaines’s brother Steve had joined on gui­tar and he was also trag­i­cally killed in the crash, af­ter which the group dis­banded. They re­formed in 1987 with Ron­nie’s brother Johnny Van Zant on vo­cals, on a tour that was doc­u­mented by a great live al­bum. The band has sur­vived many tri­als and tribu­la­tions over the years, and in 2012 they re­leased Last Of A Dyin’ Breed.

This month we’re in D (D-E-F#-G-A-B-C#) but with a D Mixoly­dian (D-E-F#-G-A-B-C) sound in many places. This is high­lighted in the main chord pro­gres­sion with D, Cadd9 and G5 chords. The phras­ing on the chords and lead fills is fairly easy to play, and the solo is also straight­for­ward. Keep an eye on tim­ing and ac­cu­racy, aim­ing for a loose and lazy (but not scrappy) feel. Check out play­ing tips and Get The Tone for more info.


Skynyd’s Rickey Med­locke and Gary Ross­ing­ton

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