Lynyrd Skynyrd's Gary Rossington shares the story behind Free Bird

(Image credit: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

In this excerpt from the GW archive - the February/March 2005 issue of Guitar World Acoustic, to be exact - Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington shares the story behind the band's iconic song, Free Bird.

“Ronnie [Van Zant, Skynyrd vocalist] didn’t like it in the beginning. He complained that the opening chord progression was too complicated, and he couldn't find a melody for it. Every once in a while we’d bring it up again, and he’d just tell us to forget about it.

"Then one day we were at rehearsal and Allen [Collins, guitarist] started playing the chord progression, and Ronnie said, ‘That’s pretty.’ And he wrote the lyrics in three or four minutes - the whole damn thing!

"We started playing Free Bird in clubs, and initially it was just a slow ballad.

"Then Ronnie said, ‘Why don’t you do something at the end of that so that I can take a break for a few minutes.’ So I came up with the ending chord progression and Allen played over them, then I soloed and then he soloed - it all evolved out of a single jam we had one night.”

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Guitar World Staff

Since 1980, Guitar World has been the ultimate resource for guitarists. Whether you want to learn the techniques employed by your guitar heroes, read about their latest projects or simply need to know which guitar is the right one to buy, Guitar World is the place to look.