where

I gotta hit one little string to complement Ed-take 'Alabama'-l wrote the main thing, Ed came up with little
week.

loops that complemented the basic idea, Allen put something else on that. We work on guitars all day sometimes, or all

Ronnie Van Zant: "The mone.t' doesn't mean shit." together, but seeing the Stones on Ed Sullivan made them want to play rock 'n roll instead. "After about lour years playing at parties, we played Jacksonville clubs for $20 a week lor the next five years. We used to play all night and go to school during the day. Never slept. By '68, we were playing

"l think ol the group as a team," Gary explains. "R.onnie, Ed, Allen and myself are the basic core of the band. Il I quit, it wouldn't hurt that much. Same with Al and Ed. But if Ronnie quit it would fall apart-he holds everything together. I think he's one of the best writers in America. He just writes true stories. Decisions are made jointly by the four of us, but he has always made the final decision 'cause he was a little older and smarter than the rest of us. "We haven't changed," he concluded before heading to the back olthe bus for a nap, "even though some people's attitudes have changed towards us. We'd like to start writing a lot more and touring less. For four years we've been constantly on the road, never at home. What we call a day olf is traveling. . . ." We drove for hours past flat scrub lands and swamps filled with birches and palms and short, squat bushes with prickly leaves. past an occasional town, trailer parks, shopping centers. By mid-aftelnoon we arrived in St. Petersburg, and I talked with Ed King in the hotel restaurant. King's first band was the Stra*berry Alarm Clock, a subject which pains him enough to make him not want to talk about it. King met Skynyrd when they backed up an Alarm Clock tour. "lt was toward the end, when the group had really fallen and we were playing the lowest kind of gig. Skynyrd had just changed from calling themselves the One Per CentFebruary, I970. I think it was-we did gigs together for these crooked promoters, worked for a couple of months. ln'72they called me in to play bass on the first album-l'd always wanted to play with them." According to King, the three guitar set-up "had to happenI can write songs but I can't write'em on bass. We kept experimenting, jamming until it felt right, then we wrote 'l Need

anything on the radio plus 'Satisfaction,' 'Day Tripper,'

Yardbirds. Blues Magoos. They called us a psychedelic band and lor awhile we couldn't get any work, so we left to go to Atlanta, where we met Kooper." They recorded an album-and-a-half worth ol material five years ago in Muscle Shoals, but according to Rossington, "Our manager didn't know what to do with it. I think it's the best album we did, even though it's old. You can tell the playing's sloppy, but the material is better. When our first album came out it was still a dream to us. I didn't believe we were playing to sold-out houses or riding in a bus. We used to ride in an equipment truck. Everything's moved so fastthis is what we've worked lor all our lives and it's a dream come true." Like the rest ol the band, Gary credits Al Kooper with arranging their first big break but admits it was dilficult to get along with him. "lt was hard working lor him that first album.
We were rushed, had no money, ate once a day if we were lucky, all stayed in two rooms. We did a lot ol things he didn't like, but it came out good. Like on the first song, 'I Ain't the One,' he changed the break. Since it was new to us, we did it that way. After, we realized we didn't like it. We were pressed for time and money but we didn't want it out, so we did it over. "Leon Wilkeson was in the group when Kooper signed us, but two weeks before we were to do the album, he quit, so we got Ed King in to play bass. We got Leon back and Ed switched to guitar. At first it was really weird, 'cause we didn't know how to do it-all three guitars would play the same thing. We didn't know il it was gonna work, we just tried it out. We had a real good place to practice, and got inspired, started writing-the first ones got thrown out. There's a few places
44

Skynyrd bassist Leon Wilkeson (top left), pianist Billy Powell (top right) and new drummer Artemu:e Pyle (bottom) Crawdaddy