Remembering The Night Lynyrd Skynyrd Blew The Stone’s off The Stage

In the world of rock ‘n’ roll, certain moments and performances become legendary. On July 2nd, 1977, one such historic event unfolded at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in California. Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Southern rock band hailing from Jacksonville, Florida, opened for one of the most iconic and revered rock groups in the world, The Rolling Stones. What transpired that evening has since become the stuff of rock ‘n’ roll legend.

To understand the significance of this event, it’s essential to consider the context. Lynyrd Skynyrd was at the peak of their powers, propelled by the success of their latest album, “Street Survivors,” which had been released mere days before the show. The album featured some of their most beloved songs, including “What’s Your Name” and “That Smell,” and was receiving significant acclaim. On the flip side, The Rolling Stones were no less than rock royalty, known for drawing enormous crowds at their concerts, and their reputation preceded them wherever they performed.

From the moment Lynyrd Skynyrd stepped onto the stage, it was evident that they had no intention of being relegated to the status of just another opening act. The band launched into their set with high-octane energy, and lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant’s charismatic stage presence was immediately evident. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s signature triple-guitar attack filled the stadium, creating a wall of sound that was both raw and electrifying.

The Turning Point: “Sweet Home Alabama”

The turning point of the evening came when Lynyrd Skynyrd played “Sweet Home Alabama,” their ode to their home state. The crowd, predominantly comprised of Californians, responded with an outpouring of enthusiasm and solidarity. As the refrain “Sweet home Alabama” echoed throughout the stadium, it was an electrifying moment, and it became clear that Lynyrd Skynyrd had not only captured the audience’s attention but also their hearts.

The Stones’ Response

As The Rolling Stones took the stage, they faced an audience that was already charged up by Lynyrd Skynyrd’s exceptional performance. It was evident that Mick Jagger and the rest of the Stones had their work cut out for them. The band delivered a tremendous show, brimming with the energy and charisma that they were known for. But they were faced with a tough challenge: they needed to match the fervor that Lynyrd Skynyrd had unleashed upon the audience. It was an impossible task no one would possibly meet.

What followed was a battle of rock ‘n’ roll titans. Both Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Rolling Stones pushed themselves to the limit to captivate the audience. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s performance, in particular, has since been acknowledged as one the best live shows ever, by any band. Their rendition of “Free Bird” that night was nothing short of legendary and one of the best liver performances of all time.

One thing of note is that The Stones and their Management, which had been known to be difficult with opening acts had one rule. Do not leave the main stage and go on the tongue. There was a large red tongue in front of the stage which was reserved for only Jagger to walk down during the Stone’s performance.

They played nice at this show, but there was already stress between the two bands, since a year earlier at Knebworth in front of 200,000 people, Skynyrd broke the rule, and is the only band who has ever done that to this day. At the Knebworth show in the UK, Skynyrd was not a well know force at the time in the UK. When they took the stage there was basically zero energy from the crowd since they were songs that no one knew. When they went into “Freebird” the crowd was still not very interested, until the jam where, when Van Zant ushered Rossington, Collins and Gaines down the tongue to the delight of the crowd. At that point The Stones said they would never play with Skynyrd again, and did not until this show in 1977, and then never played with them again. The Stone’s did not want Skynyrd playing at the Oakland show, but were forced to by the record label. The other opening act, also added by the record label, who played a relatively mediocre show, was Peter Frampton.

The legacy of this iconic concert extends far beyond the music itself. It stands as a testament to the incredible power of live performances and the unpredictable moments that can unfold in the world of rock ‘n’ roll. On that summer night in 1977, Lynyrd Skynyrd, a group often seen as underdogs from the American South, not only proved that they could hold their own but also upstaged rock ‘n’ roll royalty. It was an evening when the South triumphed over the established rock order, and a moment that has been etched into the annals of rock history as one of the most memorable and audacious performances of all time.

The impact of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s show at the Oakland Coliseum in 1977 cannot be overstated. It served as a pivotal moment in the band’s career and solidified their reputation as one of the preeminent Southern rock acts of all time. “Sweet Home Alabama” became one of their signature songs, celebrated not only for its musical brilliance but also for its ability to transcend regional boundaries and unite audiences through its catchy melody and spirited lyrics.

Furthermore, the show underscored the enduring appeal and influence of Lynyrd Skynyrd. They demonstrated that Southern rock was not just a regional niche but a powerful and universally resonant form of expression. The band’s combination of electric guitar solos, heartfelt lyrics, and a sense of authenticity struck a chord with music lovers of all backgrounds, and the Oakland performance was a testament to that universality.

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Author: guyute