Tom Hill / WireImage / Getty Images
Today, we’re celebrating the life of rock legend Ronnie Van Zant, who would be 70 years old today. Born on this day in 1948, Van Zant rose to fame as the frontman of legendary Southern rock outfit Lynyrd Skynyrd and is by far one of the genre’s most legendary and intriguing figures. Older brother to current Lynyrd Skynyrd frontman Johnny Van Zant and 38 Special’s Donnie Van Zant, what began as road trips with proud papa Lacy and his brothers to the tune of Merle Haggard and Hank Williams turned into a glowing career and a legacy far beyond his wildest dreams.
Fiercely talented, fiercely driven, and fiercely missed, Ronnie’s legacy lives on four decades after his death at the age of 29 and on what would have been his 70th birthday, we celebrate his life by looking back on the 7 top reasons why he’ll always be Southern rock’s greatest hero.
He’s been called the everyman’s poet, capable of getting to the heart of the human condition by using his life growing up in a tightly knit family in Jacksonville, Florida as a frame of reference.
Ronnie’s tremendous ability to capture all of those moments and feelings we’ve all experienced – small town life, wanting to break free of your own backyard to see the world, sitting at your mama’s knee and hearing her whisper to you every dream she’s ever had for you – and commit them to paper is unmatched, crafting stories with a pearl of wisdom or two thrown in almost as if Ronnie was trying to give something back as payment for the legacy he was about to create.