Tragic Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash in 1977 Happened Only Days from Evansville Concert
On August 1st, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the southern rock band, will return to Evansville, IN. Even though this is not the first time the band has performed in Evansville since the tragic plane crash in 1977, every time they come to this area they bring along memories of that fatal crash.
Lynyrd Skynyrd was in the prime of their career when a devastating tragedy occurred. On October 19th, 1977, the band played a concert in Greenville, South Carolina. The next day, Oct 20, 1977, they boarded a chartered plane heading to their next show in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. While flying over Mississippi, the Convair CV-300 plane ran out of fuel and the pilots attempted an emergency landing on a small airstrip, but the plane couldn’t make it and instead crashed in a forest in the town of Gillsburg, Mississippi. Band members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and Cassie Gaines, along with assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary, and co-pilot William Gray were killed on impact. The rest of the band, road crew, and tour manager Ron Eckerman all suffered serious injuries but survived.
This horrific crash devastated the music industry of the day. Fans across America, including thousands of fans from this area, mourned the loss of the band members. The crash happened just three days before Lynyrd Skynyrd was scheduled to perform a show in Evansville at Roberts Stadium on October 23rd. This left many local fans feeling a greater since of loss because they felt a personal connection to the tragedy.
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