Elvis Presley, (Elvis Aaron Presley,) 1/8/35 – 8/16/77. Elvis was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. He is considered by many to be “The King of Rock and Roll”. In addition to being a singer/songwriter and playing guitar, he also had a successful acting career. His lifestyle took a toll on his health and Elvis died as a result of a drug induced heart attack. Elvis died at age 42.

He was a turning point in rock and roll. His influence is everywhere from his dance moves to his sensual sneer. Talent? Sure he had it, he was original and gusty. I think it was more about the larger than life presence and his great looks. But like so many others he could not deal with life on its own terms. Was it fame? Depression? An emptiness that money, women and material objects could not fill? Expectations that he could not live up to? Who knows. There's a scene in the movie "Rattle and Hum" where Larry Mullens Jr. sits on Elvis's bike at Graceland. Larry was obviously honored and thrilled. It was very moving. There was something about Elvis that made him lovable, like rooting for the underdog. But also a sadness when he ended up doing the whole Vegas thing. Sometimes its better to walk away and leave them crying for more instead of trying to please everyone up to the last minute. He was only human. I think people made him feel like he was a god and so he acted like one sometimes.

Elvis Presley - Love Me Tender
via FoxyTunes

Marc Bolan, (Mark Feld) (aka Toby Tyler), 9/30/47 – 9/16/77. Born in London, England. Marc was one of the original glam rockers and was one of the founding members of T-Rex. Ironically March never owned a car or learned to drive out of fear of early death due to a car accident. He was killed when the car he was a passenger in hit a tree. Marc was 29.

I love Marc Bolan. I love the way sang, his glamrock image, his looks; the fact that he did things his way. Here is a quote from a book called "The Brisish Invasion" by Nicholas Shaffner that puts it like this, "a spunky little dreamer who looked and played the part of an elvish minstrel; whose bizarre voice and songs were dismissed by critics as a fleeting novelty or, worse, a bad joke; and whose most laughable trait of all was a near-mystical belief in his own importance and destiny - in short, a surefire loser who played by rules all his own and went on to become the biggest pop star in Britain."

T. Rex - Bang a Gong (Get It On) [Single/LP Version]
via FoxyTunes

Ronnie van Zant, (Ronald Wayne Van Zant), 1/15/48 – 10/20/77. Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Ronnie was the lead vocalist, primary lyricist and founding member of Lynryd Skynyrd. He was the older brother of Donnie (.38 Special) and Johnny Van Zandt (Lynryd Skynyrd). He died when the plane carrying the bland to their next gig crashed as a result of no fuel. Ronnie was known for saying he would not live to be 30, he died at age 29.

I got little chills up my spine just now. Its so hard to find the words to express the loss of Ronnie, Steve and Cassie. I remember hearing the news, seeing the footage on TV and feeling so sad for the rest of the band and the families (the Gaines family especially). I have a personal connection to the song "Freebird". It was the favorite song of one of my best friends, Steve. Steve told me he wanted this song played at his funeral. Ironically two months after this plane crash took the lives of these three, Steve took his own life. We played "Freebird" at his funeral. I still can't listen to it all the way through without crying and that was 30 years ago.

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Free Bird [Live]
via FoxyTunes

Steven Gaines, 9/14/49 – 10/12/77. Born in Senecar, Missouri Steven was a co-guitarist for Lynryd Skynyrd. He wrote their hit "I Know A Little" and co wrote "You Got that Right". Steve lost his life in the plane crash along with his sister, Cassie. He was 28.

I want to thank my friend Sean for reading here discovering some errors I had written regarding Steve. I started this blog, but its truly a group effort because I rely on people to correct me when I have misinformation and to add their thoughts. Such a sad day for the band and the fans - but can you imagine what it was like for the Gaines family? Losing not one, but two children on the same day. I can't fathom the heartbreak.

Cassie Gaines, 7/15/48 – 10/20/77. Born in Senecar, Missouri Cassie was a member of The Honkettes who became the female back-up vocalists for Lynryd Skynyrd. She died in the plane with her brother, Steven. Cassie was 29.

I have a friend who went to high school with Cassie. We were talking one day and her name came up. He was amazed I knew who she was. I assumed everyone knew who she was because she was one of those who perished in this horrible crash. This beautiful young woman just happened to be singing on this tour, I am sure she was thrilled. Very tragic.

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