Fifty Years Ago, Lynyrd Skynyrd Debuted

Musicians reflect on the album that blasted out of little Doraville, Georgia, in 1973

Time flies like a “Free Bird,” doesn’t it? Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd, in Doraville, Georgia’s Studio One, spreading Southern rock around the globe upon its release in August 1973. Fifty years later, musicians shout out the debut album’s tracks that still soar.

“Lynyrd Skynyrd is the perfect combination of talented songwriting, musicianship, and raw vocals that no one had ever heard until their debut album,” says Texas country star Johnny Lee. “‘Free Bird’ will forever be one of the best songs with a guitar solo that still leaves me begging for more.”

“I started listening to their music at a young age and always admired the lyrics to ‘Simple Man,’” says the Virginia-raised artist Makenzie Phipps. “It was one of the very first songs I learned, and even today I still play it.”

“‘Free Bird’ has always been my favorite song that Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded,” says country music singer-songwriter T. G. Sheppard. “I had the chance to share the same stage with them on more than one occasion. I stood in the wings and listened to them just recently when we both played the Strawberry Festival in Plant City, Florida. They’re still as great as ever. Talk about a tight band—wow!”

illustration: tim bow

“‘Tuesday’s Gone’ is a quintessential ‘I must be going now’ song,” says bassist Kevin McManus of the Shootouts. “The melody just weeps, and the arrangement is not only poignant but incredibly thoughtful. It does not feel like a seven-and-a-half-minute song, like how saying a painful goodbye never seems long enough.”

“Lynyrd Skynyrd’s legacy can be wrapped up in two words: ‘Free Bird,’” says singer William Lee Golden. “The song has become an anthem for all Southern rock.”

Want more? Read G&G’s oral history of ”Free Bird“.