Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bret Michaels Come to Cruzan
Neil Young initiated one of the most barbed exchanges in rock 'n' roll history with "Southern Man" and "Alabama," two scathing indictments of segregation and Southern sins. Pride rankled, Lynyrd Skynyrd jumped to its homeland's defense and responded with "Sweet Home Alabama," etching a classic-rock standard and ripping Young a new one in a tidy step. That track, along with perennial "Free Bird," would eventually rival "Stairway to Heaven" and Boston's "More Than a Feeling" for rock radio domination.
Sadly, tragedy looms large over the Skynyrd legacy — specifically the 1977 plane crash that killed original singer Ronnie Van Zandt and two other band members; a car crash in 1986 that paralyzed guitarist Allen Collins and killed his girlfriend (Collins died four years later); and the January '09 death of original keyboard player Billy Powell. Still, the supposed Skynyrd-Young feud apparently didn't erase the affection Ronnie felt for Young. He was frequently photographed onstage wearing a T-shirt bearing the cover of Neil's Tonight's the Night album, and he was also reportedly buried in it.
As for special guest Bret Michaels, the former Poison singer is quite the media star, with his Broadway bow in Rock of Ages, a recent Oprah interview, his win on Celebrity Apprentice, and, perhaps even more impressively, a well-documented recovery from a near-fatal brain hemorrhage and surgery to repair a hole in his heart. Both acts, beaten but not broken, should make for a memory-filled night.
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