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40 years ago: Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash

photo cpurtesy of Telesouth communications inc.

This week marked the 40th anniversary of the plane that crashed in Gillsburg, Mississippi.

The crash killed six people, including the band’s lead singer and main songwriter, Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and Steve’s sister, backup singer Cassie Gaines, Pilot Walter Wiley McCreary and co-pilot William John Gray, and Dean Kilpatric, the band’s assistant road manager.

Twenty others on the plane were injured among them was Lynyrd Skynyrd’s tour manager Ron Eckerman, who was interviewed by Supertalk Mississippi several years ago about the crash.

Here is a look back to the band Lynyrd Skynyrd and the 1977 plane crash.

While the southern band was often controversial, Eckerman said that it was done purposefully.

The day before the plane crash there had been some trouble with the plane.

Eckerman said that he felt personally responsible for the crash.

“When we started trimming the tops of trees, it sounded like machine guns…”

Ron described witnessing the plane crash apart as looking like two giant hands unscrewed the plane in the middle

During the plane crash Eckerman said everything was a blur and that his mind wasn’t on crashing at first. Instead, he was worried about the regular poker game.

“I thought we were going to put it down on the freeway because we could have done it,” said Eckerman.

“I woke up when they were pulling us out of the plane crash…”

Eckerman added that while the plane crash rocked the nation, their music stood the test of time.

Eckerman later passed away from acute myeloid leukemia in May of 2014.

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