The Free Bird Went Down – Today In Southern History

20 October 1977 

Lynyrg Skynyrd (Rolling Stone Magazine)

On this date in 20 October 1977… 

Southern Rock legends, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s chartered Convair 240 ran out of fuel and crashed near Gillsburg, Mississippi. Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines, assistant road mgr. Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary, and co-pilot William Gray, were killed on impact.


Other Years:

  • 1803 – The U.S. Senate ratified the Louisiana Purchase Treaty by a vote of 24-7.
  • 1817 – The first Mississippi River Showboat left Nashville on its maiden voyage.
  • 1820 – Spain sold a portion of Florida to the U.S. for $5 million.
  • 1913 – Grand Old Opry star, Louis Marshal “Grandpa” Jones was born in Niagara, Kentucky.
  • 1951 – The “Johnny Bright Incident” occurred during a college football game in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
  • 1955 – “No Time for Sergeants” opened on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre starring Andy Griffith and Don Knotts.
  • 1967 – All white federal jury convicted 7 defendants for the murder of 3 civil rights workers in Meridan Mississippi.
  • 1990 – Three members of 2 Live Crew were acquitted on obscenity charges in Florida.

Read: Why Know Southern History?


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