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Lynyrd Skynyrd Celebrate Fyfty

Upcoming four-disc box chronicles the southern rockers’ five-decade career.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Southern by the Grace of God indeed. On Oct. 13, Lynyrd Skynyrd will release Fyfty, a four-CD 50th anniversary box set that celebrates the enduring legacy of one of rock ’n’ roll’s most pre-eminent bands.

The career-spanning 50 tracks featured on Fyfty represent the best of the best music the band has offered up to its loyal, worldwide fanbase from the very beginning. Within this box set, fans of all eras of Lynyrd Skynyrd can trace the band’s roots, from their early Muscle Shoals recordings through an abundance of iconic songs that defined the soundtrack of the ’70s. From there, listeners can revisit live cuts from the historic 1987 tribute show that ignited the band’s ensuing reunion, then continue with the determined last-band standing defiance of fist-pumping latter-era tracks, culminating with a live performance of Gimme Three Steps from the band’s final show with co-founding guitarist Gary Rossington in November 2022.

Fyfty comes housed in the sturdy, vinyl-size 12×12-inch format, with a gatefold jacket that holds a detailed 40-page booklet featuring opening notes penned by longtime friend of the band Cameron Crowe, along with liner notes and track-by-track analysis by rock journalist Gary Graff. Additionally, Fyfty is filled with unreleased photos of the original band and the reformed band, a stirring visual chronicle of Lynyrd Skynyrd both then and now.

Photo by Jim McCrary.

The legacy of Lynyrd Skynyrd is etched in stone, and it is most readily accessible through the band’s deep, rich catalog of great songs — a half-century’s worth of material spread across 14 studio albums and myriad of compilations and live recordings that, over the years, have unearthed unreleased gems and rarities that have only served to enhance one of rock ’n’ roll’s richest bodies of work. “We just kind of notice what’s going on around us and write songs so people relate to them,” Rossington observed in the liner notes. “That’s always been our style. We learned that from Ronnie (Van Zant); he always had a great way to take a subject and write a cool story around it so people could relate. We’re just trying to keep that going.”

Their story is a well-told tale of triumph amidst and over tragedies. After five years of touring small venues under assorted monikers with varying lineups, the band officially became Lynyrd Skynyrd in Jacksonville in 1969. The handle was a sly twist on the name of a long hair-hating high-school gym teacher they all knew firsthand, Leonard Skinner. Skynyrd spent years honing their craft through relentless touring, hard living, and hot material including the down-home mission statement Sweet Home Alabama and the anthemic opus Free Bird — the latter represented on Fyfty via a previously unreleased live version from a performance in Atlanta, on July 7, 1976. These and other iconic Skynyrd tracks like What’s Your Name, Gimme Three Steps, Simple Man, Call Me The Breeze and That Smell all helped make the band one of America’s biggest acts by the mid-’70s. Lynyrd Skynyrd gave the likes of The Rolling Stones and The Who a run for their money when opening for them, and even had the impudence to take shots at Neil Young for disrespecting the Southland. (Neil didn’t seem to mind too much, by the way.)

The group’s ascent abruptly and tragically stopped on Oct. 20, 1977, when the plane taking Skynyrd to a show in Baton Rouge crashed in a Mississippi forest, killing three band members — vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines. Guitarists Gary Rossington and Allen Collins, bassist Leon Wilkeson, keyboardist Billy Powell, drummer Artimus Pyle and backing vocalist Leslie Hawkins were all seriously injured, but survived. As a result, Lynyrd Skynyrd ceased to be for a decade.

The band’s re-emergence in 1987 for what was supposed to be a one-off tribute tour was surprising and controversial — until the group hit the stage, that is. With younger brother Johnny Van Zant out front — Ronnie had said he was the best singer in the family — Lynyrd Skynyrd became a formidable force once again, releasing nine more studio albums to date and continuing to do what they do best out on the road. Skynyrd also welcomed a myriad of additional band members to the ranks to carry the torch as others sadly passed on — namely, Collins in 1990, Wilkeson in 2001, Powell in 2009, original guitarist Ed King in 1996, and, most recently Rossington, the last co-founding member, who left us in March 2023.

As Johnny Van Zant says in the liners, “We miss him so much. What kept me going was calling (Rossington) and having these conversations. He was my cheerleader. So now I’m gonna have to remember his voice to keep my spirits up and keep this thing going… as a tribute, and so people remember him and Ronnie and all the others who have been part of this.”

As Crowe succinctly pointed out in his comments in the Fyfty booklet, as rock ’n’ roll only continued to get bigger and bigger, “through it all, doggedly making one authentically great record after another, Lynyrd Skynyrd had risen through the ranks to become one of America’s greatest bands.” The proof can be found within the grooves of all 50 tracks on Fyfty.”

Lynyrd Skynyrd: Fyfty Track List

CD 1
1 | Comin’ Home (Original Version)
2 | I Ain’t The One
3 | Gimme Three Steps
4 | Tuesday’s Gone
5 | Simple Man
6 | Sweet Home Alabama
7 | The Ballad Of Curtis Loew
8 | Workin’ For MCA
9 | On The Hunt
10 | Made In The Shade
11 | Whiskey Rock-A-Roller (Live)
12 | All I Can Do Is Write About It (Acoustic Version)
13 | Gimme Back My Bullets
14 | Double Trouble

CD 2
1 | Saturday Night Special (Live)
2 | T For Texas (Blue Yodel No. 1) (Live)
3 | Travelin’ Man (Live)
4 | Free Bird (Live – Unreleased)
5 | What’s Your Name
6 | You Got That Right
7 | I Know A Little
8 | Down South Jukin’
9 | White Dove
10 | Was I Right Or Wrong?
11 | Georgia Peaches
12 | Mr. Banker

CD 3
1 | Call Me The Breeze (Live)
2 | That Smell (Live)
3 | Smokestack Lightning
4 | Southern Women
5 | The Last Rebel
6 | Born To Run
7 | Devil In The Bottle
8 | Talked Myself Right Into It
9 | Berneice
10 | Voodoo Lake
11 | Tomorrow’s Goodbye

CD 4
1 | Mad Hatter
2 | Pick ‘Em Up
3 | Red White And Blue
4 | Skynyrd Nation
5 | Simple Life
6 | Still Unbroken
7 | God & Guns
8 | Gifted Hands
9 | Start Livin’ Life Again
10 | Mississippi Blood
11 | Last Of A Dyin’ Breed
12 | Last Of The Street Survivors
13 | Gimme Three Steps (Live – Unreleased)


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