Lynyrd Skynyrd: Street Survivors – Why the cover changed

October 17, 1977 – Lynyrd Skynyrd: Street Survivors is released – and why its album cover changed three days later.

For me, this is one of those moments in my musical youth that had a profound effect on me.  Although always a fan of Skynyrd,especially live, I felt that this album was the beginning of their prime years.  I bought this the day it came out and did not think anything about the cover. That all changed three days later so did the album cover shortly thereafter. I mourned for not only what we lost but for what we would have had going forward…fly on Freebird.

Street Survivors is the fifth studio album by Lynyrd Skynyrd, released on October 17,1977. The LP is the last Skynyrd album ever recorded by original members Ronnie Van Zant and Allen Collins, and is the sole Skynyrd studio recording by guitarist Steve Gaines. Three days after the album’s release, on October 20,1977, the band’s chartered airplane crashed en route to Baton Rouge, Louisiana,killing the pilot, co-pilot, the group’s assistant road-manager and three band members (Van Zant, Gaines, and Steve’s older sister, backup singer Cassie Gaines), and severely injuring most who survived the crash.

The cover was changed to an alternate photo with an all-black background, out of respect for the deceased. Thirty years later, the original”flames” cover was restored, while the alternative cover serves as the back of the case. Lead singer Van Zant is wearing a t-shirt depicting Neil Young’s album Tonight’s the Night in both photographs.

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