Jacksonville, Florida, Ronnie VanZant asked Bob Burns, a
friend with a drum kit, who suggested Gary Rossington a
school buddy with a guitar and Larry Junstrom, who played
bass guitar to start a rock and roll band. Along came
Allen Collins and they became known as the Noble Five.
The Noble Five practiced every moment they had, even
skipping school, and a hard intense rock-filled sound
began to emerge. They were creating their own rock n'
roll sound but were hassled by their gym teacher, Leonard
Skinner, didn't approve of it.
After a while, being suspended by their coach for having
long hair, they dropped out of high school. As a joke, or
a way to get in a free shot at their former teacher they
introduced themselves as Leonard Skinner, totally mocking
their gym teacher's name. The audience's knew of this
teacher and gave the group their approval. A new and
final name, Lynyrd Skynyrd, was created.
They were out of money, but refused to take on full-time
jobs so they coulds practice. After too many complaints
of the loud music from the neighbors, they found an
isolated farmhouse just outside of Jacksonville, which
eventually became known as 'Hell House' and is where
Lynyrd Skynyrd's music was born.
Jacksonville was 'the place' for the emerging Southern
rock sound so in 1967, Lynyrd Skynyrd entered a battle of
the bands and landed their first tour, opening for a band
called "Strawberry Alarm Clock". In October
1970, they aquired a manager, Alan Walden. Alan arranged
for the band to record demos which included 'Freebird'.
Allen Collins wrote the music to 'Freebird' and Ronnie
wrote the lyrics.
After a few changes in the choreography, a rock anthem
was born. The first time they performed 'Freebird' the
audience went wild.
Jimmy Johnson, a producer at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios
was so impressed he offered his experience. In 1971 they
borrowed the money and went to their first recording
session. Walden passed the demo tapes around but didn't
find any takers. Frustrated, they went to Atlanta to try
a different venue for their music.