Surely they needed something better than a bucket of bolts to shuttle them there?  Van Zant died on impact from head injuries suffered after the aircraft struck a tree. They waited, barely daring to breathe, until help could extricate them from their perilous position. Ex-Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Ed King recalls the intense sadness of Van Zant's funeral, noting that people in attendance were so overcome with grief that they were literally falling down.  Their mausoleums at Orange Park remain as memorials for fans to visit. The list of injuries was extensive. “I saw the plane smack the ground. Ronnie Van Zant : biography January 15, 1948 – October 20, 1977 Ronald Wayne "Ronnie" Van Zant (January 15, 1948Social Security Death Master Index 2007. Send us a tip using our anonymous form. That's how it was with Ronnie VanZant and a group of… The guys nicked named the little place Hell House. Other times, it just kind of happens when no one is looking. Van Zant died instantly of blunt force trauma to the head. The neighbors were given a break when the Noble Five found an empty house out of town on a huge farm. He is the father of But fate threw a terrible curve ball to VanZant and Lynyrd Skynyrd fans. We were all terrified. Want more Rolling Stone? Less than three hours later the twin-engine would plummet from the sky and into the darkened swamps of Gillsburg, Mississippi, claiming the lives of Van Zant, Steve and Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray Jr. He was the older brother of the founder … Among the 150 guests were Dickey Betts, Charlie Daniels, Al Kooper and Tom Dowd, as well as members of Grinderswitch, .38 Special and the Atlanta Rhythm Section. Let’s go, man. He made sure his boys could fight well enough to hold their own. McCreary entered the cabin and made the chilling announcement to his passengers: “We’re out of gas – put your heads between your legs and buckle up tight.” Pyle, himself a trained pilot, happened to be in the cockpit when the problems began. Now certain he was dealing with a jailbreak, the young farmer sped back to his mobile home. Cassie Gaines, a member of the backing vocal trio known as the Honkettes and sister of guitarist Steve Gaines, was so petrified that she nearly squeezed in the band’s cramped equipment truck until she was reluctantly persuaded to board the aircraft. At 6:42 p.m. McCreary frantically radioed Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center. It was too macabre.” Instead, the photo was replaced with a shot of the band set amid a simple black background. A trio of helicopters from the Coast Guard, National Guard and Forrest County General Hospital ferried medical personal and illuminated the scene. Van Zant was an avid fisherman. Van Zant formed a band called My Backyard late in the summer of 1964 with friends and schoolmates Allen Collins (guitar), Gary Rossington (guitar), Larry Junstrom (bass), and Bob Burns (drums). He enjoyed baseball, and was a fan of the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees. The precise cause of the crash was never established for certain. Personally I didn’t like the plane.” Rudge himself reportedly opted to fly first class on commercial flights, a choice that fostered resentment among the band. I just walked around trying to help whoever I could.” Ten feet above the carnage, Leslie Hawkins and Bill Sykes, a television crewman accompanying the band, were alive but stuck in a tree, with a heavy piece of sheet metal dangling precariously overhead. Ronnie aspired to be many things before finding his love for music. Van Zant's father later noted that, "God was a jealous god. Attempts to maneuver a soft landing in a field or stretch of highway proved fruitless as the craft sank lower and lower into the remote forest a short distance from the Mississippi/Louisiana border. “Our wives, everyone were afraid for us to get on this thing, but we didn’t know any better,” keyboardist Billy Powell said on a 1997 episode of VH1’s Behind the Music. He claims McCreary and Gray insisted the plane was fine, but they’d call ahead for a mechanic to look things over – in Baton Rouge. I said, 'Ronnie, don't talk like that,' but the man knew his destiny. “Everyone but me was wearing a seatbelt when we crashed, yet every seat but one was ripped from the floor, and almost everyone was hurled forward into the wall panels in a pile of broken bodies that smothered the people on the bottom,” writes Odom. Other times, it just kind of happens when no one is looking. It is also patrolled by security.". Rudge chartered three planes for loved ones to identify the bodies. The guys, some as young as 13, practiced every second that was possible. In addition to his fractured ribcage, Artimus Pyle was treated for numerous abrasions and contusions. Gene Odom had been thrown from the plane and broke his neck, his skin badly burned and one eye blinded by phosphorus from a de-icing flare that had been aboard. A feeling of impending doom carried over into his music, particularly the Street Survivors track “That Smell.” Written as a stern warning after Rossington wrapped his brand new Ford Torino around a tree during a substance-fueled joyride, the foreboding “smell of death surrounds you” refrain provides a glimpse into Van Zant’s unsettled psyche. Ronnie knew that he was going to die.”. © Copyright 2020 Rolling Stone, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media, LLC. ) They remained married up until his death in 1977. “When I heard that there had been a plane crash, I just knew Ronnie was one of the ones that didn’t make it,” the singer’s widow Judy Van Zant Jenness told Team Rock’s Jaan Uhelszki in 2016. “Everyone was a little uptight about it. The guys signed, and VanZant was on his way into rock history. The lifeless bodies of pilots McCreary and Gray remained strapped in their cockpit seats, which were now suspended upside-down from a nearby tree. He ultimately backed out after claiming that he caught McCreary and Gray “smoking and passing around an open bottle of Jack Daniel’s in the cockpit.”, Rudge witnessed no such incidents, and leased the plane at a rock bottom price: three payments of $5,000. Manufactured in 1947, it was the third of its kind ever built. 10 years later, the new location of their interment was accidentally revealed by a Craigslist ad. An Analysis of, Craigslist posting reveals Ronnie Van Zant's burial site, "Jacksonville.com: Many of the area's music landmarks no longer exist 07/05/98 | Jacksonville.com", "What did the band Lynyrd Skynyrd contribute to music? Music blared and the aisles filled with increasingly rambunctious revelers dancing 12,000 feet above the earth. Ronnie Van Zant Biography by Charlotte Dillon + Follow Artist. He was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, to Lacy Austin (1915–2004) and Marion Virginia (Hicks) Van Zant (1929–2000).Ronnie aspired to be many things before finding his love for music. To open the vault would require a tractor with a lift capacity of several tons. Other times, it just kind of happens when no one is looking. Things didn't work out as well as he had hoped, so he put together a band of his own, My Backyard, with Bob Burns, Gary Rossington, Allen Collins, and Larry Junstrom.
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