Lynyrd Skynyrd: Freebird (demo, 1970)

 |   |  <1 min read

Lynyrd Skynyrd: Freebird (demo, 1970)

It's a joke that never ages, at a rock concert someone yells out "Free Bird". It's such a standard that the American writer Mitch Myers entitled his collection of rock anecdotes and fiction The Boy Who Cried Free Bird. Whoever that guy is, he's as notorious as the one who shouted "Judas" at Dylan.

The joke -- for those who have never heard Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird from '73 -- is that the song seems interminable (it is actually 9.06 seconds on their Pronounced album) and contains marathon guitar parts by Gary Rossington on slide and then Allen Collins in the second half.

The song itself has a number of interesting features: Al Kooper played organ on it in the studio (as Roosevelt Gook); Collins had the music for six months before Ronnie Van Zandt wrote the lyrics; the first words came from what Collins' girlfriend said to him at a high school dance; and the original didn't have the midpoint tempo change which became its distinctive feature.

Over the years the song has appeared in extended live versions (of course) but here is their first demo, recorded at Quinvy Studios in Sheffield, Alabama in October 1970.

Curiously enough it doesn't sound half as good as the more famous long version -- and it is only half the length. 

For more one-off or unusual songs with an interesting backstory see From the Vaults

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Jacqueline Taieb: 7 heures du matin (1967)

Jacqueline Taieb: 7 heures du matin (1967)

The attractive young Taieb (who had been born in Tunis) was one of the generation of "ye-ye" girl singers which emerged in France in the Sixties as the Beatles swept through. The... > Read more

Jimi Hendrix: 1983, A Merman I Shall Turn to Be (1968)

Jimi Hendrix: 1983, A Merman I Shall Turn to Be (1968)

Because of the sheer number of his recordings out there, you'd be forgiven for thinking that when he wasn't playing a gig (and being recorded), having sex or sleeping, the great Jimi Hendrix was in... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

WARWICK BLAIR INTERVIEWED (2004): Getting the art back into the artist

WARWICK BLAIR INTERVIEWED (2004): Getting the art back into the artist

For Auckland composer and music teacher Warwick Blair it has been a long journey to come full circle. In the late Eighties he won a scholarship to the Conservatorium in The Hague but during his... > Read more

SESSIONS FOR ROBERT J, a doco by STEPHEN SCHIBLE

SESSIONS FOR ROBERT J, a doco by STEPHEN SCHIBLE

When Eric Clapton released his 2004 album Me and Mr Johnson – a tribute to Robert Johnson – it seemed rather belated. After all, from the time he was a teenager he'd been listening... > Read more