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Lynyrd Skynyrd monument will forever link band to area

No matter your opinion of rock ’n roll, there is no denying Lynyrd Skynyrd’s impact on the genre — especially Southern rock.

At its peak, the band charted as high as No. 8 on the Billboard list with “Sweet Home Alabama.” More telling of the band’s popularity is the longevity of that song and the band’s unique Southern style. Listen to any rock band that calls the South home and you’ll hear echoes of Skynyrd.

The band played to countless sold-out audiences, and was heading to a show 42 years ago when tragedy struck, forever linking the band to Southwest Mississippi.

The plane crash that killed six, including founder Ronnie Van Zant, is well-known to fans and just about anyone in this part of the state. Locals still tell stories of where they were when they heard about the crash.

Thanks to the hard work of volunteers — and donations from around the world — the rest of the world will know the story of the band and its legacy.

A group of Skynyrd fans originally set out to raise enough money for a small monument and a Blues Trail marker near the crash site in Gillsburg.

Surprisingly, the folks in charge of the Blues Trail markers decided Skynyrd did not play the blues, despite evidence to the contrary. Undeterred, the group seeking to erect a monument kept raising funds and eventually pulled in enough to create the 8-foot-tall, 14-foot-wood black granite monument that was unveiled this past weekend.

Brookhaven Monument designed and built the monument that includes information about the band, the crash, rescuers and survivors.

Family members of those killed in 1977 attended the unveiling, as well as those who helped with rescue efforts following the crash. And, of course, plenty of fans attended the ceremonies.

The band’s enduring popularity is evident from the donations that poured in for the monument — several came from other countries. A few rock legends also donated to ensure the band received a fitting tribute.

Since the crash, Southwest Mississippi has been linked to Lynyrd Skynyrd — now a monument will ensure that connection continues.

We are grateful to those who worked to make this possible.