Country Throwback: Lynyrd Skynyrd Performs ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ at Oakland Coliseum in 1977

by Charles Craighill

Lynyrd Skynyrd was the epitome of Southern rock. Let’s take a look at their 1977 performance of “Sweet Home Alabama” from the Oakland Coliseum. This concert titled “A Day on the Green” featured some of the biggest bands of the time.

In this hot take of the Southern anthem, “Sweet Home Alabama,” the crowd erupts at the first lick. Oakland Coliseum looks like it has over 100,000 people in it. Lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant rocks a top hat and flowing locks as he spreads wisdom to the crowd. You can almost see him crack a smile as he delivers the ‘Watergate’ lines of the song.

Gary Rossington, the founding Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist, rips the first guitar solo of the song. His Les Paul blasts through the stadium with gripping distortion. Sweet, sweet notes from the heavens.

The Textbook Lynyrd Skynyrd Jam

The end of the song brings the iconic jam that features solos from all Lynyrd Skynyrd instrumentalists. Billy Powell kicks it off with the unforgettable piano solo. He masterfully combines the beauty of the instrument with the grit of southern rock.

Newcomer and multi-talented guitarist, Steve Gaines takes over off of Powell’s tail. His Stratocaster feeds through a Peavey amp that rings through the stadium. This, unfortunately, would be one of his and also Van Zant’s last concert with Lynyrd Skynyrd. They both died in a plane crash later that year. Most of the band survived, however, they decided to call it quits anyway.

Finally, Allen Collins brings it home with his Gibson Explorer bringing a different guitar tone than Rossington’s Les Paul and Gaines’ Strat. His solo ends the song, closing on a blasting crescendo as Van Zant yells “Alabama” at the top of his lungs. This performance was peak Lynyrd Skynyrd, just months before the fateful plane crash that would end the band’s glory years.

Day on the Green

The Day on the Green Concert series was put on by event planning legend, Bill Graham for several years through the ’70s and ’80s. Dozens of legendary acts graced the Oakland Coliseum stage, from the Grateful Dead to the Rolling Stones. On that two-day event alone, Santana, Peter Frampton, and Outlaws appeared beside Lynyrd Skynyrd.