Ronnie Van Zant Of Lynyrd Skynyrd Predicted His Own Death

By | January 13, 2020

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Ronnie Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd in a recording studio, August 12, 1977. Photo by Tom Hill/WireImage

When Lynyrd Skynyrd's Ronnie Van Zant died in a plane crash at the age of 29, music fans were shocked and saddened, but the accident seemed to make good on dark premonitions the singer had been sharing for years. As far as rock ’n roll legends go, the plane crash that killed three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd -- Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, backing vocalist Cassie Gaines -- as well as members of their crew and the pilots is one story that never fades away. Aside from being something that could have been averted, the crash has the air of an urban legend surrounding it. Members of the band were involved in car accidents leading up to the crash, many of their songs were about characters who lived on the razor’s edge between life and death, and then there was the fact that Ronnie Van Zant predicted his death multiple times.

Van Zant knew he wasn’t going to survive the crash

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source: morrison hotel gallery

On the evening of October 20, 1977, the band boarded their chartered Convair CV-240, a plane that was built in the 1940s and that had taken nearly 30,000 flights. The band would have had better luck flying a tin can to Baton Rouge. Aside from the CV-240’s age there were plenty of things wrong with the plane. Not only did it not have enough fuel to make the trip, but its right engine had been sputtering and shooting flames during its most recent flights.

Still, the band got on board that evening and settled in for a night of partying on their way to Louisiana. When the right engine went out everyone on board panicked, but according to drummer Artimus Pyle, Van Zant rose from the floor where he was getting a massage and calmly walked to his seat after shaking the drummer’s hand. Pyle told Rolling Stone, “Ronnie knew that he was going to die.”