Nugent Recalls Supporting Skynyrd After Ronnie Van Zant’s Passing

Nugent on Rossington’s memory:

“Gary kept playing right to the end. As long as he could physically get on stage, he did that soaring, spiritual masterpiece from ‘Free Bird,’ that slide guitar on his Gibson SG and sometimes on his Gibson Les Paul. And Gary was a great man.

He was a kind man. He was a dedicated musician. He had a great work ethic. All the things that makes an American rock solid in the asset column is Gary Rossington. So God bless him for enriching our lives with his amazing music with the Lynyrd Skynyrd band.”

He then continued by recalling how he and Lynyrd Skynyrd were supposed to headline Madison Square Garden in the 70s, but the plane carrying some of the band members, including Ronnie Van Zant, tragically crashed a short while before the gigs. Upon hearing the news, many wished to cancel the sold-out shows, but Nugent had a better idea.

Ted decided to play double sets and then donate all the proceedings to Lynyrd Skynyrd. It was one of the best ways he could’ve helped out the act after their unfortunate losses, but Ted chose to keep this story a secret for the most part. However, he was proud to have financially supported the Southern legends when they needed it most.

“In 1977 — I believe that was the year when their plane went down — Lynyrd Skynyrd and I were co-headlining two nights at Madison Square Garden. And after the plane went down, there was a lot of heartbreak, obviously, and a lot of disarray. And the promoters in New York, Ron Delsener — I can’t believe I remember all these guys’ names.

But the Lynyrd Skynyrd plane went down. And they lost Ronnie, and they lost members of their band. So, everybody goes, ‘Well, we’re gonna have to cancel.’ And then Ron Delsener said, ‘You know, it’s sold out both nights.’ I said, ‘I’ll play double the length, and we’ll donate all the proceeds to the Lynyrd Skynyrd family.

Now it’s amazing you never heard that story, because if Ted Nugent does something good — which it wasn’t just me; it was my entire team, my band, my crew, my management. But we donated all that money from two nights at Madison Square Garden to the Lynyrd Skynyrd families after that tragic accident.”

While paying tribute to Gary Rossington’s memory and career, Nugent recalled doing his best to support Lynyrd Skynyrd during one of the most challenging times of the band’s career. The rocker could’ve postponed or canceled the show, but he chose to play double-length and help out the Southern rockers financially.

Ted Nugent In Concert At The House Of Blues

Photo: Getty Images North America

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