Lynyrd Skynyrd at B.R. Cohn
LYNYRD SKYNYRD IN one of its many iterations. (This image features members Ean Evans and Billy Powell, who both died in 2009).
The legendary southern rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd has joined the lineup for the 25th annual B.R. Cohn Charity Fall Music Festival, performing along with headliners Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, Leon Russell and the ever-popular Doobie Brothers. The concert takes place Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 24 and 25, with Skynyrd set to perform during Sunday's showcase.
"It's the 25th anniversary so I really wanted to make it special," said Bruce Cohn, founder of B.R. Cohn Winery and the weekend of charitable events, which also includes an auction and dinner with guest chef and TV personality Guy Fieri, set for Friday, Sept. 23, at the winery.
Skynyrd rose to fame after opening the Who's "Quadrophenia" tour in 1973, where they became known for one of their most beloved songs "Free Bird," which fans still demand at every concert. Throughout the '70s, the band's popularity continued to grow with mega hits like "Sweet Home Alabama," "That Smell" and "Saturday Night Special." Tragedy stopped the band in its tracks in 1977. The plane they were taking into Baton Rouge, La., ran out of gas, forcing it to crash land in a forest in Gillsburg, Miss. Band members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines were killed on impact, along with the band's manager and the airplane's pilot and co-pilot. The surviving members of the band all sustained serious injury, and at first it appeared that the accident had ended their careers.
Remaining members Gary Rossington, Billy Powell, Leon Wilkeson and Artimus Pyle, attempted to form the Rossington-Collins Band in 1980, but it lacked the star power of Skynyrd. In 1987, the foursome joined up with former guitarist Ed King, who had left the band prior to the plane crash, bringing in Ronnie Van Zant's younger brother, Johnny, as lead singer. Meant to be a one-time tribute act, the band received such a positive response they launched a new tour, reviving Lynyrd Skynyrd's original catalogue.
Since then, the band has continued to change its musician line-up, with a total of 18 members over the past 38 years. Rossington remains the only original member still performing with the band, although Johnny Van Zant has provided lead vocals since 1987. The band, which was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 and named one of Rolling Stone's Top 100 Bands of All Times, continue to make new music together with their latest album "God and Guns," released in 2009.
Cohn said he was able to secure the band through his connections with the Doobie Brothers, who regularly perform with Skynyrd. The band had a show scheduled in Nevada Sept. 24 and realized they could make the trip to Sonoma the next morning, to take the stage on Sept. 25.
"We definitely want to sell that show out and make a lot of money for charity," Cohn added.
In addition to Skynyrd and the Doobie Brothers, Leon Russell, Jim Messina, Lara Johnston and Carlos Reyes can be heard during Sunday's concert. Saturday also brings the Doobie Brothers, Leon Russell and Jim Messina, along with Sammy Hagar and Joe Satriani, Greg Kihn and Pat Simmons Jr. Tickets are on sale now and range from $100 for general admission to $1,000 for a seat literally on the stage.
Tickets can also be purchased for the charity auction dinner for $150. The long weekend of fundraising ends with the Celebrity Golf Classic, which takes place Monday, Sept. 26, at the Sonoma Golf Course. The cost to participate is $400.
In its 25 years, the B.R. Cohn Charity Events and Fall Music Festival has raised more than $5 million for area charities. This year's beneficiaries include the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance, Redwood Empire Food Bank, Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, Glide Memorial Church, Santa Rosa Memorial Trauma Center and a variety of veterans organizations.
For tickets or more information, contact 800-330-4064, ext. 126; or www.brcohn.com.