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 Zant 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
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but not broken, should make for a memory-filled night.
Lynyrd Skynyrd, with Bret Michaels and 38 Special. 7 p.m. Thursday,
June 10, at Cruzan Amphitheatre, 601 Sansbury's Way, West Palm Beach.
Tickets cost $19 to $53.50. Call 800-745-3000, or click here.