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.”