Yes, it's true, southern rock aficionados. On August 13, 1973, a group formed in the swamps of Jacksonville, Florida, unleashed their debut album to the world.  "(Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd)" immediately received radio airplay, especially regionally, where rock and roll fans hungrily devoured what Skynyrd was serving up. The band had named themselves after a gym teacher at Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville who was a notorious enforcer of the school's strict policy against boys with long hair. In later years, the band actually developed a friendship with Leonard Skinner, even inviting him to introduce the band at one of their legendary concerts at Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum.

The album was produced by the venerable Al Kooper. In addition to being a well-regarded producer, Kooper was also a musician of some note and a rock-n-roll chameleon. He produced and/or played on several important rock albums in the 1960's and 1970's including(but not limited to) albums from the Rolling Stones, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan and the Who. Kooper also formed Blood, Sweat & Tears in 1967, but left the band before they became popular. Kooper knew a good thing when he heard it and felt that Skynyrd was the real deal.

For a debut album, "(Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd)" is a powerhouse record, featuring many songs that are still among the band's most well-known including "Simple Man", "Gimme Three Steps", "Tuesday's Gone", and of course the Granddaddy of ALL Southern Rock Anthems(apologies to the Allman Brothers), "Free Bird". It wouldn't be until Skynyrd's NEXT record, "Second Helping", before they had their first Top 40 hit with "Sweet Home Alabama", but to many, myself included, that first album paved the way for future successes. Not just for Lynyrd Skynyrd, but for many groups who happened to fall under the umbrella of "Southern Rock". Truly a shining star in the southern sky.

(Article image courtesy of MCA)

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