Say It's Your Birthday: Lynyrd Skynyrd's Steve Gaines

Today is the birthday of Steve Gaines, guitar player for Lynyrd Skynyrd born

on this day in 1949. The band was discovered playing in an Atlanta club by

Blood Sweat And Tears founder Al Kooper in 1972. Kooper signed them to his

new Sounds of the South record label and released Pronounced Leh-Nerd

Skin-Nerd, which included the classic "Freebird," probably the second

most requested song in rock history. The band which drew heavily from the

hard English bluesrock sound had the good fortune to have a fan in the Who's

Pete Townshend, who requested that Skynyrd open for the 1973

Quadrophenia tour. As a result the band developed a strong fan base

early in their career. "Sweet Home Alabama" from Second Helping was

the band's biggest single. Other singles included "Saturday Night Special,"

"What's your Name," and "You Got That Right." Tragically the band's career

was cut short when their plane crashed on October 20, 1977. Gaines, his

sister Cassie Gaines (one of three female backup singers), Ronnie Van Zant,

and their personal manager Dean Kilpatrick were killed when their rented

single-engine Convair 240 plane short of fuel crashed into a swamp in

Gillsburg, MS enroute to play at a Louisiana University on a 50 city tour.

Gary Rossington, Allen Collins, Billy Powell and Leon Wilkenson were all

seriously injured but eventually recovered. It is also the birthday of Barry

Cowsill (Cowsills), and Paul Kosoff (Free).