'I'll Never Forget You: The Last 72 Hours ...'
(Ronnie Van Zant, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Gene Odom, Leslie Hawkins, Lynda Haun, et al / DVD / NR / 2019 / MVD Visual)
Overview: At the height of its fame in 1977, the popular southern rock band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, was struck with tragedy - a plane crash that killed the band's founder and lead singer Ronnie Van Zant along with Steve Gaines, backup singer Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray.
'I'll Never Forget You: The Last 72 Hours of Lynyrd Skynyrd' chronicles the story of three survivors: security guard Gene Odom, lead backup singer Leslie Hawkins and guitar tech Craig Reed.
These survivors give their firsthand accounts of the wild times of the band, the 72 hours leading to the crash, the harrowing crash itself and its aftermath.
DVD: As is told through the eyes of the survivors, Ronnie Van Zant’s bandmates were anxious as they prepared to board their leased plane at Greenville, South Carolina’s Downtown Airport on the afternoon of October 20th, 1977.
And they had good reason to be: Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s rickety Convair 240, pushing 30 years old, was obviously past its prime. “We were flying in a plane that looked like it belonged to the Clampett family,” drummer Artimus Pyle says.
The 10-foot flames seen shooting out of the right engine two days earlier had done little to inspire anyone’s confidence. The scary incident convinced the group that they needed to upgrade their vehicle to something befitting their status as one of the biggest acts in music.
Their latest album, Street Survivors, had gone gold upon its release three days earlier, and the first five dates of the accompanying tour had been met with rapturous crowds throughout their native Southland.
The ambitious trek, their largest to date, would see the band achieve its dream of playing New York’s Madison Square Garden. Surely they needed something better than a bucket of bolts to shuttle them there?
After making the 600-mile trip from Greenville to Baton Rouge, where they were due to play the following night at Louisiana State University, Lynyrd Skynyrd planned to acquire a Learjet, the air chariot of choice for the Seventies rock elite.
Still, one final hop on the Convair felt like one too many for most in their entourage. “Our wives, everyone were afraid for us to get on this thing, but we didn’t know any better,” keyboardist Billy Powell recalls.
Cassie Gaines, a member of the backing vocal trio known as the Honkettes and sister of guitarist Steve Gaines, was so petrified that she nearly squeezed in the band’s cramped equipment truck until she was reluctantly persuaded to board the aircraft.
Guitarist Allen Collins was equally apprehensive. “He didn’t want to get on that plane,” Gary Rossington told the Orlando Sentinel in 1988. “He said, ‘I’m not gonna get on it because it’s not right.'” But the band’s front man remained almost eerily calm. “Ronnie said, ‘Hey, if the Lord wants you to die on this plane, when it’s your time, it’s your time. Let’s go, man. We’ve got a gig to do,'” remembers Rossington.
Forty years later, his words resonate like a dare to the gods. Less than three hours later the twin-engine would plummet from the sky and into the darkened swamps of Gillsburg, Mississippi, claiming the lives of Van Zant, Steve and Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray Jr.
The 20 survivors endured shattered bones, torn flesh, lengthy hospitalizations and grueling rehabilitations. While their bodies recovered, they’d never again be reunited with the voice that made songs like 'Free Bird' and 'Sweet Home Alabama' perennial anthems of Southern rock.
This hour-long documentary features original behind-the-scenes film footage of life with the band before the crash, dramatic reenactments illustrating key dramatic scenes, and high-end CG animations - including a simulation of the plane crash that matches the NTSB report.
It also features rare interviews with four first responders were also captured, filmed on location at the crash site in Gillsburg, Mississippi.
Based on Gene's book, I'll Never Forget You, this documentary offers the fond remembrance of one man's journey with this legendary band, but more importantly, the loss of his dearest friend.
Gene's unique perspective and down-to-earth sensibility grants unique access to the behind-the-scenes story, the celebration and the tragedy.
The film weaves the three survivors' stories together to paint a picture of what might have been and the web of tragic decisions leading to the plane crash that forever altered their lives - and Lynyrd Skynyrd's place in history. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Bonus Features of:
40th Anniversary Event in Jacksonville, FL
Tennessee Iron Cold Dark Mississippi Night Music Video
Gene's Fishing Advice