Today is a special celebration of Ronnie Van Zant’s life and legacy as the Charlie Daniels Band commemorates the late Lynyrd Skynyrd singer on his birthday, as well as Daniels’ and Van Zant’s friendship.
Charlie Daniels Band Pays Tribute to Ronnie Van Zant
The Charlie Daniels Band Instagram page posted two photos to honor Van Zant’s birthday. The caption reads: “ON THIS DAY in 1948, Charlie’s friend and Lynyrd @skynyrd frontman, Ronnie Van Zant was born in Jacksonville, FL. – TeamCDB”
The untimely death of the Lynyrd Skynyrd singer is due to a plane crash that took place on Oct. 20, 1977. Along with Van Zant, Lynyrd Skinner guitarist Steve Gaines and backup singer Cassie Gaines were killed.
The Night Charlie Daniels Lost a Good Friend
“It was a strange night. We had a sold-out show in St. Louis, and it was the first night of a tour, and everything was just wonderful,” says Daniels during an interview with Billboard. “Somebody — I don’t even know if I knew the person or not — walked in and told me that Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane had crashed, and some people had been killed. To be honest, I thought it was just some rock n’ roll rumor, and I didn’t believe it. So, I had it checked out.”
“I found out it was true about 30 seconds before we went on stage, but they hadn’t released the names of those killed yet,” he continues. “So, we went out on stage night that night knowing he had some friends that were killed, but not knowing who they were. We just took it out on the music, and did our thing, and worked through it. It was definitely a sad night.”
Commemorating Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Lead Singer With Love
Daniels dedicated his 1979 album Million Mile Reflections to his friend. The record includes the song “Reflections.” The track tugs at listeners’ heartstrings. It also depicts a more emotional side of the artist behind the famous tune “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” The song was first played live at Volunteer Jam V.
Charlie Daniels Jr. describes watching his dad during the performance.
“I remember sitting on one of the road cases watching dad sing that song live. Dad did his best, but he struggled to get through the ‘Ronnie my buddy…’ and subsequent lyrics,” says Daniels Jr. “Dad was crying, and at 13 years old, it hit me if dad was that emotional about losing someone, he must have been really close and it must really hurt, then I started crying.”
The song commemorates the talented souls who passed too early, including Janis Joplin and Elvis Presley. The end of the song is sorrowful. However, a powerful expression of gratitude is expressed for the friendship he shared with Ronnie over the years. The raw emotion and mournful lyrics make the ending a tough pill to swallow.
The Charlie Daniels Band Instagram page posted the picture. They included some of the last and most meaningful lyrics of the song. The image is captioned: “Keeping Charlie’s legacy alive. – TeamCDB”
Happy Birthday, Ronnie! Enjoy Celebrating with Charlie!
Ronnie Van Zant would’ve turned 73 on Friday. His talents didn’t stop at being the lead singer in Lynyrd Skynyrd. Ronnie was also a songwriter. He wrote the lyrics for some of the band’s most popular songs, including the famous “Free Bird.”
Van Zant and his pal Charlie Daniels, who died in July of 2020 at the age of 83, must be having a good time. Kicking back, relaxing, and enjoying time in paradise. Regardless of where they are now, they’re likely enjoying a couple of brewskis, raising their glasses in honor of Ronnie’s birthday.