It was 40 years ago today that the classic lineup of Lynyrd Skynyrd played the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco.
The year was 1975, and Skynyrd—singer Ronnie Van Zant; guitarists Gary Rossington, Allen Collins and Ed King; bassist Leon Wilkeson and drummer Artimus Pyle—were riding high. The southern rockers had established themselves as a mainstream success with crossover hits like “Tuesday’s Gone,” “Gimme Three Steps,” “Call Me the Breeze” and of course “Free Bird” and “Sweet Home Alabama.” Now, touring for their album Nuthin’ Fancy, they were enjoying the glow of fame and watching the album—their third—crack the Top 10, a first for the band.
The group’s two Winterland shows—performed just one month after the March 23 release of Nuthin’ Fancy—were noteworthy for several reasons. Skynyrd were at their peak both commercially and professionally. These were also among the last shows to feature their original three-guitar attack: Ed King would leave the band halfway through their tour, citing exhaustion. He would eventually be replaced by Steve Gaines.
Fortunately, the entire concert is available online. You can watch it here, but we’ve also included clips of some of the best moments below, including “Call Me the Breeze,” “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Free Bird.”