Location: Rochester, NY
Member #: 73,356
Popular music sadly seems especially full of “only the good die young” problems; from this springs the hypothetical asking which one of them you’d resurrect.
My answer? Ronnie Van Zant.
Could I cheat slightly and reverse the Skynyrd plane crash as a whole?
Freddie Mercury (45) and John Lennon (40) lived longer than some of the other names also mentioned in such discussions, so they had more time to leave us some of their best work. No doubt they could have done much more with more decades, but still. Elvis (42) and Michael Jackson (50) lived about as long, and already seem to have declined, not that I ever really got MJ anyway. Some others lived relatively full-length lives already, such as Johnny Cash (71). In that regard, Van Zant (29) and Steve Gaines (28) weren't too far ahead of the 27 club which includes Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix.
This kind of question seems like it should as much be about what they could have done as what they already did.
I feel that many of the other names here were more properly appreciated in their time, whereas Skynyrd hadn't fully broken through yet; they seemed like they were about to widen their audience bigtime.
One ironic thing is that they had just started to put away/tone down the overt Confederate flags and boozing by the time of the crash - i.e. they were cleaning up parts of their act that had caused them a lot of grief.
Put it this way: What if Lennon had died before The Beatles had put together Sgt. Pepper and their subsequent albums? (Street Survivors is analogous to Revolver [which preceded Sgt. Pepper] in the context of this hypothetical.)