Monday, July 19, 2010

Free as a bird now

Allen Collins would have been 58 today, so it's okay.

Go ahead and request "Freebird." 

Collins probably would have played his signature lick for you.  Even after he left Lynyrd Sknyrd following the plane crash that killed lead singer Ronnie Van Zant he continued to play the song in his own bands.  The only difference was the sentiment. 

"Freebird" was co-written by Collins and Van Zant as a tribute to Duane Allman, but the instrumental version became a tribute to his Jacksonville buddy Van Zant.  This is classic Lynyrd Sknyrd, the epitomy of Southern rock 'n' roll, music that will live forever despite the tragic loss of its core members. 

Collins was involved in a car wreck in 1986 that killed his girlfriend and left him paralyzed from the waist down.  He died in 1990 of respiratory failure.  To revive a stubborn old slogan of the South that fueled the band's rebel heritage:

Hell no we won't forget.


  1. Good on you, Jim; most don't know the provenance of "Freebird," which was Gary's only Gibson song. And "Hell, NO, we won't forget" is a perfect motto for Lynyrd Skynrd. This is another SSS offering in which Al Kooper played a part. Eerie ...

  2. You must be mistaken about this being Gary's only Gibson song. Gary has NEVER played anything other than a Gibson on stage. Gary did the slide part and the rhythm part on the solo in this song.

    Allen Collins performed magic on stage every time he played this song. If it wasn't for that car accident then the heart of Lynyrd Skynyrd could have carried on. But on January 23rd, 1990, The band lost its heart. RIP Allen Collins. You will be remembered forever.

  3. Gary Rossington has only played a Les Paul or an SG. However, the only time he plays the SG is during Freebird where he plays slide for the beginning of the song.

    And this song was NOT written as a tribute to Duane Allman, it was written when Allen's wife made the comment about her leaving him because he was more interested in music than her. She made the comment "If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?" His/their reply is the rest of the song.

    Seems like you forgot Jim.

  4. My memory skips like an old 45 RPM record, but that is the story I've always heard. There can be no quibbles however about the contributions Allen Collins made to Skynyrd and Southern rock.