Lynyrd Skynyrd Biography
Lynyrd Skynyrd (pronounced /leh-nerd skin-nerd/) is a U.S. Southern rock band, described by All Music Guide's Stephen Thomas Erlewine as "the definitive Southern rock band, fusing the overdriven power of blues-rock with a rebellious, Southern image and a hard rock swagger."  The band reached prominence during the 1970s under the leadership of vocalist and primary songwriter Ronnie Van Zant until he died, along with several other members of the band, in a plane crash in 1977.
Lynyrd Skynyrd was one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed Southern Rock groups of the 1970's and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 13, 2006. Their distinctive triple-lead guitar sound made their songs "Free Bird", and "Sweet Home Alabama" American anthems and staples of FM radio. Members inducted include: Ronnie Van Zant, Gary Rossington, Allen Collins, Leon Wilkeson, Bob Burns, Billy Powell, Ed King, Artimus Pyle and Steve Gaines.
The band, first called My Backyard, was formed in Gainesville, Florida in the summer of 1964 by teenage friends Ronnie Van Zant (vocals), Allen Collins (guitar), Gary Rossington (guitar), Larry Junstrom (bass), and Bob Burns (drums). Their early influences included British Invasion bands such as Free, The Yardbirds, and The Beatles, as well as Southern blues and country & western music.
During the 1960s, the band changed names several times (most notably The Noble Five and One Percent) while playing local dances and clubs in Jacksonville. In 1968 they won a local Battle of the Bands contest, using the prize money to record the songs "Need All My Friends" and "Michelle", the former released as their debut single on Jacksonville-based Shade Tree Records. They also won the opening slot on several Southeast shows for California-based psychedelic rock band Strawberry Alarm Clock.