Back in August 1976 I turned 18 and the guys I was working with said would I like to go to Knebworth on August 21 to see The Rolling Stones? So we set off 5 of us in Keith’s Ford Cortina Mk 1 at 09:00 and arrived in the car park at 10:15 and humped the beer/wine bucket to what seemed like a great spot.
The line up was:
The Don Harrison Band (who included the rhythm section from CCR)
Todd Rundgren’s Utopia
The first 3 were fine but then I guess about 16:30 “Ladies and gentlemen, will you please welcome from Jacksonville, USA, LYNYRD SKYNRD”
I’d heard the name but that was all, but HELL the place immediately went into an intense toxic southern whiskey infested groove “Working for the MCA” “Searching” “Saturday Night Special” “Travelling Man” “Whiskey Rock n Roller” “Gimme Three Steps”. Everything about the groove, 3 guitar line up, the backing singers, lead singer Ronnie Van Zant barefoot because he “wanted to feel the stage burn”. During “Give me a T……” something, well unexpected happened, a young lady tapped me on the shoulder “Lindsay dance with me” Jenny who was in my year at school who was there with a group of girl friends amazing coincidence amongst 120,000 people. She always was devastatingly attractive. Skynyrd finished with their guitar opus Freebird. “Skynyrd caused a real buzz backstage,” said the late Knebworth Festival organizer Freddy Bannister. “We all wondered how anyone could follow them. An hour later, we all began to wonder if anyone would even try“! The rest of the day, well, 10CC were great I always loved them but perhaps not right for the occasion, and then the Stones actually due on stage at 21:00 but actually 23:30 because of “technical problems” (aka Keith was stoned!). The Stones were great but in truth blown away by those southern men from Jacksonville. But as the Stones opened with Satisfaction Jenny came over again with a bottle of wine, not her first of the day nor mine, and we danced for the 2+ hours and we had a quite incredible snog during Fool to Cry. It finished at 2:30, the concert not the snog!
I saw LS again at the Rainbow Theatre early in ‘77, with my then steady girlfriend, not being support they could do their full set and in a small venue better but not as spontaneous.
Coda: Aficionados of Skynyrd will be aware that disaster struck in October ‘77 when their plane crashed due to pilot error near Gillsburg Mississippi, the carnage was terrible singer Ronnie VZ and several others perished but perhaps saddest of all the most recent additions to the band guitarist Steve Gaines from Oklahoma and his sister Casie whose Dad “only let her join a rock band because her Brother was there to look after her”.
I have seen Jenny once since in 2003 at a school reunion and she is very happily married with a lovely family. I returned to Knebworth in Aug ‘86 with my late wonderful wife to see Queen for sadly Fred’s last ever live gig. Queen were on fire that night but couldn’t hold a candle to Skynyrd.
Look what I’m getting for Xmas! https://www.diversevinyl.com/product/lynyrd-skynyrd-live-at-knebworth-76/