Gary Rossington Remembers When Ronnie Van Zant Wrote ‘Sweet Home Alabama’
Lynyrd Skynyrd's Gary Rossington remembered how his late bandmate Ronnie Van Zant wrote "Sweet Home Alabama" as an answer to Neil Young.
As the guitarist recalled on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show, Van Zant was offended by a pair of Young songs that he didn't feel properly reflected the South.
"We loved him," Rossington told Uncle Joe Benson. "We loved his lyrics and his music, and Ronnie was a real big fan of his. He just put that verse in there about him because we had just recorded at Muscle Shoals and were doing clubs all around small towns in Alabama. And it was beautiful. We loved it and the people were great."
At the time, there was a negative perception of the South due to highly publicized incidents of racism. Young wrote a pair of songs, "Southern Man" on 1970's After the Gold Rush and "Alabama" on 1972's Harvest, in protest.
"And Ronnie just took offense at that, that he was cutting him down," Rossington recalled. "So he just said that as kind of a fun little thing. But we loved him -- always have and still do. A lot."
"Sweet Home Alabama" was released as the second single from Lynyrd Skynyrd's sophomore effort, Second Helping. It became their highest-charting single, reaching No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.
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