Home Today Years Ago October 20, 1977: Skynyrd Singer And Guitarist Killed In Plane Crash
October 20, 1977: Skynyrd Singer And Guitarist Killed In Plane Crash
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October 20, 1977: Skynyrd Singer And Guitarist Killed In Plane Crash

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Today in 1977, the airplane carrying Lynyrd Skynyrd to Baton Rouge, LA crashed near Gillsburg, MI. The plane ran out of fuel in mid-air and forced the pilots to attempt an emergency landing on a nearby abandoned airstrip. The plane never made it to the strip and crashed in a heavily wooded area, being ripped to pieces. While most passengers survived with serious injuries, six people were killed in the crash- lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and his sister Cassie, roadie Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary, and co-pilot William Gray. The band had previously decided that this would be their final flight in the Convair CV-240, citing concerns with safety and referring to it as something that “looked like it belonged to the Clampett family” (referencing the Beverly Hillbillies). The site of the crash has been turned into a memorial, with an oak tree displaying numerous Lynyrd Skynyrd iconography carved into it.