What was Ronnie Van Zant’s Net Worth?
Ronnie Van Zant was an American singer and songwriter who had a net worth of $400 thousand at the time of his death in 1977. After adjusting for inflation that’s the same as around $2 million in today’s dollars. Ronnie Van Zant is best known as the lead vocalist and co-founder of the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. During his time with the band, which lasted from 1964 until he died in 1977, Van Zant helped to create some of the most iconic and influential music of the 1970s. Lynyrd Skynyrd has sold over 28 million records in the United States alone and is widely regarded as one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Their three most famous singles are “Sweet Home Alabama”, “Free Bird”, and “Simple Man”, which have become enduring classics of the genre. Other Lynyrd Skynyrd was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. Skynyrd’s hits included “I Ain’t the One”, “Tuesday’s Gone”, “Gimme Three Steps”, and “Simple Man”.
Tragically Ronnie Van Zant died in a plane crash on October 20, 1977, at the age of 29. Lynyrd Skynyrd was flying from South Carolina to Louisiana on a Convair CV-300. The plane crashed in Mississippi. The aircraft struck a tree and Van Zant died of head injuries upon impact. Skynyrd bandmates Steve and Cassie Gaines were also killed, along with their assistant road manager, pilot, and co-pilot.
Ronnie Van Zant was born on January 15, 1948, in Jacksonville, Florida. He grew up in a musical family, with his father Lacy Van Zant being a noted musician and songwriter in his own right. Ronnie showed an early aptitude for music and began playing in local bands while still in high school. However, his rebellious streak often got him into trouble with authority figures, and he dropped out of school at the age of 15.
Van Zant’s first major musical project was the band My Backyard, which he formed in 1964 with some friends from his neighborhood. The band eventually evolved into Lynyrd Skynyrd, which took its name from a gym teacher at their high school, Leonard Skinner, who was known for his strict rules on hair length. Lynyrd Skynyrd quickly became one of the most popular bands in the Jacksonville music scene, and they began touring extensively throughout the Southeastern United States.
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s breakthrough came in 1973 with the release of their debut album, “Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd”, which featured the hit singles “Free Bird” and “Simple Man”. The album was a critical and commercial success, and it helped to establish the band’s signature sound, which blended elements of blues, rock, and country music. Over the next several years, Lynyrd Skynyrd continued to release successful albums and tour extensively, becoming one of the most popular live acts of the era.
Tragically, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s success was cut short in 1977 when the band’s plane crashed in a swamp near Gillsburg, Mississippi. Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and backup singer Cassie Gaines were among those killed in the crash, along with the pilot, co-pilot, and the band’s assistant road manager.
Of the 26 people on board the Lynyrd Skynyrd plane that crashed on October 20, 1977, only 6 survived. The survivors were:
- Frank D. “Goober” Gorman, the band’s road manager
- Ron Eckerman, the band’s lighting director
- Gary Rossington, the band’s guitarist
- Artimus Pyle, the band’s drummer
- Ken Peden, the assistant road manager
- Marc Frank, the band’s equipment manager
The survivors suffered a range of injuries, and some were hospitalized for an extended period. The crash was a devastating tragedy for the band and the music world as a whole, and it remains one of the most notable incidents in the history of rock music.
Despite his untimely death, Ronnie Van Zant’s legacy has continued to live on through his music and his impact on the rock genre. Lynyrd Skynyrd has remained a beloved and influential band, and their music has been covered by countless other artists over the years. Additionally, Van Zant’s style and attitude have been cited as an influence on a new generation of Southern rockers, including the Black Crowes and Drive-By Truckers.
In 1980, Ronnie’s younger brother Johnny Van Zant became Lynyrd Skynyrd’s lead vocalist when the band reunited in the late 80s. Johnny has continued to perform with Lynyrd Skynyrd, occasionally touring with his brother, Donnie Van Zant, in a band called Van Zant.
Ronnie Van Zant was married to his high school sweetheart, Judy Seymour, and the couple had two children together. He was known for his tough, no-nonsense persona, as well as his dedication to his craft as a musician and songwriter. Despite his success, Van Zant remained grounded and committed to his working-class roots, and he was beloved by his fans for his authenticity and honesty.