Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Free Bird' -- Story Behind The Most Epic Southern Rock Anthem

By Kellar Ellsworth
The ridiculously long song that became an anthem. (amazon)

Many people prefer a short and sweet approach to music. The band, Lynyrd Skynyrd and their all-time classic “Free Bird” definitely don’t agree with those people. Along with “Stairway to Heaven,” Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” battled for the coveted crown of most popular rock song that also lasted a near eternity in music terms. Funnily enough, “Free Bird’s” genesis came from just trying to fill breaks in clubs and give lead singer Ronnie Van Zant a little rest. According to Gary Rossington:

“When we started playing it in clubs, it was just the slow part. Ronnie said, ‘Why don’t you do something at the end of that so I can take a break for a few minutes.’ I came up with those three chords at the end and Allen and I traded solos and Ronnie kept telling us to make it longer; we were playing three or four sets a night, and he was looking to fill it up and get a break.” Who would have guessed that weariness could birth one of the legendary rock anthems?