One of my Lynyrd Skynyrd charity shop purchases the other day was ‘Gimme Back My Bullets’ from 1976. I’m not sure that I’ve ever really listened to this album before, mostly their earlier recordings. What I particularly like about this and the other earlier recordings is the downbeat vocals with their southern drawl and the interplay within such a multi-guitar line-up.
As per usual when I bring an album home, I try to find out a little about it. It was then that I discovered that it was in promotion of this release that they ended up playing at Knebworth in 1976. That was my one and only Skynyrd gig, but wow, what a good one to experience. It was August in a blistering hot drought year in the UK, I was just 20 and still had long hair! The band came on in the heat of the day and really stole the show. Opinion is divided as to whether they blew the Stones off the stage (I thought they were pretty good too), but for me they were wonderful. I’ve seen many gigs but only a few really remain that well in the memory and their performance was one of those, made poignant just over a year later with the deaths of vocalist Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Steve Gaines in a plane crash.
When I hear ‘Free Bird’ nowadays, my emotions are all mixed up, joy from the music yet sadness from the events that followed, and for the loss of those carefree times! The following video captures the band as they play an extended version of this song and gain the courage to venture onto parts of the stage reserved for the Stones: