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33  | Top 100
Freebird
Lynyrd Skynyrd
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A towering rock anthem crowned with the mother of all guitar solos, Freebird almost never got made at all. When guitarist Allen Collins first brought it into rehearsals, volatile singer Ronnie Van Zandt was unenthusiastic, claiming it had too many chords. Eventually he relented, writing a lyric paying tribute to the late
Lynyrd Skynyrd
Song facts
Composer Collins/Van Zandt
Genre Rock
Album Pronounced leh-nerd skin-erd
Year of Release 1973
Duane Allman. Opening with a gospel-like organ flourish which flows majestically into Collin’s sweeping slide guitar hook, Van Zandt sings with sensitivity at odds with his band’s redneck image. The climatic guitar duel was added late in the day, but soon became a centrepiece of the band’s live shows.

Freebird became the template for a certain style of southern rock showstopper – witness Green Grass and High Tides by The Outlaws or Highway Song by Blackfoot for songs with similar dynamics – and assumed even greater poignancy when Van Zandt was killed along with two other band members in a plane crash in 1977.

When Skynyrd reformed in the late 80s it was performed as an instrumental, with an empty mic stand centre stage adorned with Ronnie’s trademark cowboy hat. To this day it continues to live on as a rock radio staple matched only by Stairway to Heaven.

Mick Fitzsimmons


Other versions
Will to Power
 American AOR merchants Will to Power welded Freebird to Peter Frampton's Baby I Love Your Way and took it to the US top spot in 1988, helping to keep their mullets in luxurious fettle.

Listening to this song whilst driving is VERY, VERY dangerous!


Kyle O'Connell


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