On The Front Porch with Lucky......
October 17, 2009 1:30:46 PM UTC Post #11

The first time I saw the band was in 1974, right before the second album was released. They were opening for J. Geils at Cincinnati gardens. I saw them two years later, headlining this time with Ted Nugent and Santana opening for them. More recently, I saw them a few years ago with Deep Purple opening for them. All good shows!

October 18, 2009 5:33:39 AM UTC Post #12

I guess the first time I met Leon was in December, '95,
at the Freebird The Movie premiere.

Mitzi and I, and several hundred other, "Hard Core",
Lynyrd Skynyrd fans, were invited personally by,
Judy Vant Zant-Jenness, to view this historic film of
one of the most powerful bands of the Twentieth Century.

The invitation on the front had the same picture as the video,
the inside had the Cabin Fever logo and then read as follows:

Cabin Fever Entertainment Inc.
The Members and Families
Lynyrd Skynyrd
invite you to attend

Freebird... The Movie

Fox Theatre,Atlanta,Georgia
8:00 P.M

Reception R.S.V.P

in the Lobby
7:00 P.M.
Invitation Required

We flew to Atlanta and took the train to Peachtree st..
Across the street from the Fox Theatre was Hotel Indigo.
We got a room there, had the FOX neon sign glowing through our windows
every night we were there.
It was old but cool.
Later, Judy tells me that, Lynyrd Skynyrd stayed there in the early days.

(left to right, Hotel Indigo, Georgian Terrace Hotel)

That afternoon, (the day before the premiere),
we found out that Lynyrd Skynyrd was doing a, "Meet and Greet"
at the Hard Rock Cafe, which was'nt far away.
We stood out in the very cold, windy weather, in a line of fans,
that stretched a long way down the block, about an hour..
Finally we got inside, Paul Abraham says to Hard Rock Management,
"The girl in the red jacket is the end of the line".
There were easily a hundred people left in line, inside and out.

Mitzi was wearing the red jacket and I was standing in front of her.

Ricky, Gary, Leon, Al Kooper, Billy Powell ,Johnny Van Zant,
and Artimus Pyle were sitting at this long table, and we were getting
albums, CD's and stuff signed.
Ricky shows Gary the CD, "After the Reign" I give him to sign, and says,
"This is the CD I was telling you about Gary", Gary nods his approval.

That night was the "Jam", we had tickets 3/4 the way back, center.
This guy,walks up to us an hour before showtime with second row,
stage right tickets, in front of Gary and Leon.
He wanted$100.00 a piece, I give him my tickets and $50.00 a piece,
and there we were, man what a ride. Thank you God.

51/2 hour show with Charlie Daniels as emcee,
and a Who's Who of performers.
Highlights included:

Jeff Carlisi, and Donnie Van Zant, Four Walls of Raiford (acoustic)
Charlie Daniels- Devil Went Down to Georgia
Hughie Thomason- Hurry Sundown, Green Grass and High Tides
Ricky Medlocke-Train,Train, Highway Song
Johnny Van Zant- Brickyard Road which was followed by,
Donnie Van Zant singing Rebel to Rebel,....absolutely incredible.
Lynyrd Skynyrd-Freebird

A big party for Skynyrd after the show, at the Hard Rock,
they dedicated a wall, I have pictures of meeting Gary and Bob Burns.

The next afternoon, Judy had a "Meet and Greet" set up for the fans,
across the street at the Georgian Terrace.
Judy also set up a small museum upstairs.

I met Johnny, Pappa Van Zant, Sister Van Zant, Bob Burns was there
with his wife, Melody, Donny Van Zant, older sister Marlene ,
Larry Junstrom, and Ricky Medlocke.

(Continued below).....

October 18, 2009 5:34:33 AM UTC Post #13

So the next night, I'm standing at the window of our hotel room,
looking at the Fox Theatre, it's neon lights seemed surreal.
I mean the history of this historic theatre.
Did you know that Gone With The Wind premiered here in 1939.

We walk across the street, and start talking to this guy out front of
the theatre, real nice guy, we talked for awhile.

Turns out he was the lead guitar player for Travis Tritt.

I asked if Travis would be here tonight, he said no.
Travis was in Florida visiting his new girlfriend,
and that it looked "Serious".

I asked him to wish Travis our best, he said he would,
we shook hands and turned to go inside the lobby.

The first person we run into was Tom Dowd!

What a humble experience that was, he was so down to earth,
and he made us feel as if we were important people, a real gentleman.

We turned around and there was Jeff Carlisi and Don Barnes,
we shook hands they were as excited about the movie as we were.
Very cool guys.

We walk into the theatre, and I'm looking right and looking left for a seat,
Mitzi is pushing me hard enough to get a car started using a clutch.

But there we are, first row, center aisle seat left, right in front of Gary
and Dale and their two daughters.
I nod to Gary and Dale and we take our seats.
Judy walks over and invites Gary and Dale to sit in the roped off area,
there is a moment of silence and then I hear Gary say,
"Thanks, but no they were fine right there.

Then she looks at us, smiles and asks how we're doing?
I said, "Great!!", she winks and says, "I'll bet you are".
She leaves and I hear Gary say, "Take off that hat, I can't see!".

I really don't want to take off my genuine imitation Ronnie Van Zant
Texas Hatters hat, it's a Resistol for goodness sake.
So I slide down in my seat until the brim touches the back of my seat.
That seemed to do the trick, and the the movie started.....

Nothing could have prepared me for this, it was exciting,
emotional, sad, and profound all at once, throughout the whole film.

I turned around at the end to look at Gary and he had tears
in his eyes, hell, we all did, I asked him to keep the "Dream" alive.

He nodded his head yes, and by God, he kept that promise!

We all got up to leave, and it turns out Paul Abraham was
sitting right behind Gary, we're just standing there, as Paul
decides the best exit for Gary and his family, I see an unlit cigarette
in Gary's hand, I light it for him, and we shake hands.

Mitzi and I head across the street at the Georgian Terrace Hotel
to the elegant dinner Judy has planned for everyone.

As we walk through the doors of the former hotel lobby,
we meet up with Billy and Leon, and talk with them awhile,
after we ate, a lot of people got up and spoke.

Judy got up first, and said that she had this long speech
she was going to read but decided not to, because the film
and the music said it all.
She then invited others to come forward and say a few words.

Charlie Daniels was very eloquent, a true southern gentleman.
Mr. Gaines got up and told everyone how proud the Gaines family
was of Steve and Cassie, and thanked Judy completing this project.

Gary Rossington was gently coaxed to say a few words, he said he
was happy that the fans who didn't get to see the original band,
could now see this film and know what a great talent Ronnie was.

Dale Rossington got up, and said that nobody will forget Ronnie, Allen,
Steve and Cassie and that this film was a testimony to how great the
original band was.
But it was also important remember the ones no longer with us,
it was also important to celebrate the "Living Legends" still with us today.

She got a standing ovation, there were tears every where, especially me.

Johnny was not there, after the premiere, Johnny decided to go back
to Jacksonville.
We met Jo Jo Billingsley there, and Steve Gaines parents, it was very cool.

I managed to get a photo opportunity with Charlie Daniels....

As I looked out the window on the flight home, it was hard to absorb everything
that happened the last couple of days.

Will I ever get to be that intimate with them again, or was that the "grand finale".

We'll see, God works in mysterious ways.


October 19, 2009 4:43:07 AM UTC Post #14

Lynyrd Skynyrd Kicks off the 1996 tour in West Palm Beach, Florida!!!

Another tough day, I got off work smiling, and waved to my
friends who looked like they went through a fire fight.
On my way home, I drove past the Omni, I saw the buses,
I knew they were in town.

Yes sir! The boys were back in town!!!

Arrived home and decided to make a phone call,
sometimes it's just that easy.

"Thank you for calling the Omni Hotel, may I help you?"...
"Yes ma'am, can you please direct my call to Paul Abraham please?",
she replied,"Yes sir, please hold...".

"Hi Paul, this is Lucky, you may remember me from Atlanta last December...",
he replied, "Sure I do, how are you, what can I do for you?".

"I'd like to say hello to some very old friends of ours...",
he asked, "How many?", I thought of my friend and said "Three..",
he said stop by the Will Call Window.
I said thanks a million, he said there was no problem,
anything for a friend. Everything looks cool.

We get a phone call, our dear friend William Jordan is in town to promote
the Freebird Foundation, we go have a steak at the Roadhouse Grill,
drink beer and eat peanuts and throw the shells on the floor,
(You have to, it's the rule there).
He pulls out two "Working" backstage", "Out of the Hole",
passes for us and tells us that it will help us get a camera backstage...
How cool is that!?.

We get to the show, show our passes to the man at the back gate,
he looks at them and say's,"You got the right stuff, go on in",
I look at Mitzi like, yes dear, this is really happening.

We have seats in the second row, center. (because God said),
but I want to hang out backstage for awhile, the Doobie Brothers are playing
"Listen To The Music".

Paul just walked around the corner, followed by Gary,
(who looks like he came there to kick somebody's rear-end),
Rickey is right behind him wearing a duster and what looks like a
Texas Hatter Gambler's hat.
Hughie, Leon, Johnny, and Billy, then there is Owen Hale,
he looks at us and is the only one smiling.

They all look at us as they pass by thirty feet away, (We're outside),
they all look pissed off, this is Hughie, and Rickey's first time with the band
in many years, it's the first show of the tour.

Johnny comes out to talk with a couple of friends of his,
Leon comes out and hangs with us, we take pictures, I point to his tattoo.
Paul comes out, shakes my hand and gives Mitzi a hug.
He said everyone was nervous>
"Black Water" is starting to play.
Paul loves that song and goes out to watch them play it.

Johnny walks back to the dressing room and I yell,
"Good luck out there, break a leg!".... he turns around and comes
back to talk to us.
I tell him that they came here to Kick ASS and chew bubble gum,
and that they were all out of bubble gum, Johnny laughs, and says,
"Guess all that's left is to kick their ass", I look at Leon, he's smiling.

Doobie Brothers walk off stage, (Where are all the people,
only five people backstage?), we get pictures.

We go to our seats, everyone acknowledges our presence,
during "Freebird", Rickey looks at me and throws me his metal pick,
I have it today in my hand.

We go to the Omni, we talk to Rickey and as I shake his hand and I say,
"Well, you came full circle", he says, "you know, I really have".
I give him a hug.

Craig Reed, Leon, and I take a picture.
I flip off the camera and say...
"Anyone that don't like the new Skynyrd band today, this one's for you!!".
Leon flips off the camera too, Craig throws his head back and laughs.
A few weeks later in Charlotte, I have Leon sign that 8x10.

I sure have been lucky huh?


October 19, 2009 4:42:28 PM UTC Post #15

=LynSkyn1981 said:Do you have any stories of meeting Wayne Evans?

Hang on little brother, I'm getting there......

October 19, 2009 5:53:52 PM UTC Post #16

We decided to take a road trip. We were going to Charlotte.
We arrived at a hotel that was the closest to the venue,
and as we got settled into our rooms, we decided to get a bite to eat
at the Popeye's Chicken across the street.

Lo and behold they had free lawn seating to a Linda Ronstant concert
that night at the same place Skynyrd was playing the next night.
Very cool, we grabbed a couple of free tickets, and enjoyed this lovely lady
with a full orchestra.

After the show, I think I want a drink, Mitzi says,
"The lounge is through those doors".

As we enter, I see Leon sitting alone at the bar talking
with the bartender who seems to be hanging on every word Leon is saying.
Johnny is sitting at a table with a couple of friends,
nods a greeting as we walk in and Owen Hale yells out,
"Hey Lucky", I smile and wave, as I feel very cool that he remembers me
from West Palm Beach a few weeks before.

We decide to sit next to Leon, I say hello and tell him I have photo's
from their first night of the tour in West Palm Beach backstage
and at the hotel and copies for him to keep.

He smiles and says he'd love to see them, I retrieve them from our room
and as he is looking at them, he calls Johnny and Owen over to have a look.

The bus driver joins us and buys a round for everyone,
I choose a double Jack Daniels on the rocks.

Mitzi gives me that look, as I wink and say,
"Lynyrd Skynyrd is buying me a drink", she shakes her head and smiles.

Leon hears a song and asks me if it would be alright to, "Cut a rug" with Mitzi.....

I said, "Be my guest", I took some photos, what a treasure!
There's something about that light in Leon's eye!!

There was this business man sitting at the bar watching all of this,
and tells me that he's in town for boring meetings with executives
from across the country.
Leon hears this, and says, "Well let's take a picture!", so he switches coats with the
business man and we strike the ZZ Top pose.....

*Continued below....

October 19, 2009 5:54:43 PM UTC Post #17

The next day, I'm standing at the elevator waiting, Johnny comes strolling over
and gets on the elevator and shows me a tape he has in his hand.
He says he recorded this song in Nashville and was real proud of it.

It was called "Darien Lake", (Could this be Voodoo Lake?).

Later I decide to get a beer, as I stepped off the elevator in the lobby,
I see Ricky on his way to the pool, he say's, "Hey Lucky",
we shake hands and I ask him if he would sign this 8x10 after the show
of us in a West Palm hotel, he said he'd be glad to.

That night was magical, everyone was in top form!!!
All the favorites were played, the show was flawless!!!
After the show, in the hotel lounge, Leon is holding court with a half
dozen fans, as he spots us, he invites us over and pulls another table and chairs.

We actually felt pretty special.

It's about midnight now, it's just Mitzi, Leon and myself now.
He tells us that he couldn't hear himself out of the stage monitor that night,
I say his playing was flawless, he gave me a look that said he didn't believe me.

He offers us money to get back home, (I think to myself that this is a test,
later I hear stories about him buying groceries for a week and staying only one night).
I explain that we are fine, he insists, I ask if we can buy him a drink.
He gives up and accepts, then he tells us to meet him by the bus in a half hour.

As we all walk to our rooms, it turns out he is two doors down.

We are outside now in front of the hotel talking to Paul Abraham,
and here comes Craig Reed and Leon, we laugh, we take a couple of pictures together.

This Leon is a riot!! I'm sure everyone misses his Shenanigans.

Hughie fly's by, (Just ready to go I guess), Ricky stops to sign the 8x10 as promised,
this is really one very cool band!!

As I'm standing there with Leon, Gary comes out with Dale and agrees to have
a picture taken with me, Leon start's to explain to Gary how he could not hear out of his monitor,
Gary nods his head as if it had happen a hundred times to him as well.

Gary looks down and decides to tie Leon's shoes as Leon now directs this conversation to Dale
who has that all understanding compassionate look of
love in her eyes.

Billy stepped out of the hotel, and like the rest of them, so unassuming,
was more than happy to sign an autograph, or have a picture taken with a fan.
I wish I could have this one taken again, but I'm happy with what I have.

We all shake hands and they step on the bus and then they were gone.

God has blessed us this night...Thank you God.

Every once in awhile, I'll be lighting a cigarette, and a Skynyrd song will start
to play on the radio, I'll stare at that flame a moment and think of Leon....

"Here's to ya Leon"......


October 19, 2009 7:12:37 PM UTC Post #18

I love reading your stories, Lucky. There are more, right?

I might go out to California might go down to Georgia, I don't know...

October 19, 2009 8:34:14 PM UTC Post #19

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
That is what this board should be about.....sharing great stories. By opening up your war chest full of memories, you have given all of us a glimpse into the personalities of those who have been and are a part of the Skynyrd family.
BTW......can I be your new best friend? Or a distant cousin from Alabama that you just found out about? HA!!

Ain't nothing sweeter than a Southern girl!

October 20, 2009 8:37:01 PM UTC Post #20

=Sweet Home AL Sara said:
BTW......can I be your new best friend? Or a distant cousin from Alabama that you just found out about? HA!!

In the eyes of God, we're all brothers and sisters.

I'm proud to have you as a sister.......

"Keep On Rockin' in the Free World"

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