Uncharted: Crime and Mayhem in the Music Industry, episode 001: The Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash

[This is the first episode of my new true crime meets music podcast. It’s available for download everywhere. Episodes will appear every two weeks. – AC]

The old days of air travel were quite risky. Compared to today, the chances of your flight going down were far greater than they are today. Every airport had kiosks and coin-operating vending machines where you could buy life insurance before you headed to the gate—you know, just in case you thought you weren’t going to make it to your final destination.

Today, the technology and regulations that keep planes safe in the air and on the ground is immeasurably better. But this came at great cost.

One of the worst years for accidents in aviation history was 1977. In addition to several violent hijackings every month—sometimes with fatal results—a passenger plane also crashed somewhere in the world with great loss of life. That included the 583 people were killed when two 747s collided on a runway in the canary islands, the worst aviation disaster of all time.

Frank Sinatra’s mother, the prime minister of Yugoslavia, and all but one member of the University of Evansville basketball team died in crashes.

Then there were the events of October 20, 1977, when a rickety chartered Convair prop went down in a swamp in Mississippi. On board were members of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Six of the 24 passengers died, including singer Ronnie van Zandt, guitarist Steve Gaines, backup singer Cassie Gaines, and assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick. Both pilots also died.

What happened? The plane ran out of gas and fell out of the sky.

How was that possible? Who was responsible? And why did no one go to jail?

Have I got a story for you

Here’s an upcoming list of shows:

  1. Oct 24: The Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash
  2. Nov 07: Who Killed Run-DMC’s Jam Master Jay?
  3. Nov 14: Music and the Mob
  4. Dec 05: The Great Led Zeppelin Heist
  5. Dec 19: The Satanic Panic
  6. Jan 09: Bob Marley Must Die!
  7. Jan 23: The Linkin Park Cyberstalker
  8. Feb 06: The Bjork Acid Bomber
  9. Feb 20: The Mysterious Disappearance of Ritchie Manic
  10. Mar 05: Death Metal Death

Also coming up:

  • The Truth About the Rolling Stones and Altamont
  • The Never-ending Kurt-Was-Murdered Conspiracy
  • The Cults of Rock
  • The Murder of Robert Johnson
  • Bootleggers
  • Who Killed Tupac?
  • Rock’n’Roll Predators
  • The Strange Case of Phil Spector
  • And more!

Subscribe now wherever you get your podcasts. And if you have any suggestions for topics, shoot an email to [email protected] or leave something in the comments section.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37808 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “Uncharted: Crime and Mayhem in the Music Industry, episode 001: The Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash

  • I’m loving the show so far, Alan! Thank you so much.
    One correction, though: DJ AM survived that crash along with Travis. He died nearly a year later.


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