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Music

The moment Lynyrd Skynyrd met John Lennon in the studio

@SamWKemp

Despite them begin one of the most revered country-rock outfits of the 1970s, there’s something distinctly strange about imagining the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd and John Lennon being in the same room. Maybe it’s the fact they came from such different worlds – Lennon from the rain-soaked suburbia of Northern England and Skynyrd from the swamplands of Florida. Nevertheless, the two artists did actually meet in a recording studio while Skynyrd was making their sophomore album Second Helping.

Back in 2016, Gary Rossington – the only continuous member of Lynyrd Skynyrd – recalled bumping into Lennon during a particularly tense chapter in his relationship with Yoko Ono. “We were at the Record Plant in LA and Al Kooper was producing us. He had a lot of friends out there. He’d done Electric Ladyland with Hendrix, played with Michael Bloomfield [on the Super Sessions album]. And of course played with Bob Dylan on organ on ‘Like A Rolling Stone.'”

The southern rockers continued: “He [Kooper]] was big-time, and John stopped by the studio [to see him]. He wasn’t with Yoko, he was with that girlfriend he had for that year off [May Pang], and when they came in, we were playing a song. When they walked into the studio, into the booth, we all saw it was him and freaked out. We quit playing. Scared us. There was John Lennon. A Beatle! We got to meet him, shake his hand. Then went across the street and had lunch with him. It was great.”

While the nature of Skynyrd’s conversation with Lennon remains unclear, its easy to imagine the group being utterly star-struck. Rossington and company were huge fans of Lennon, even naming their Nashville Studio ‘Blackbird’ after the famous Beatles song of the same name. Speaking to Country Rebel, Rossington declared: “I’m a Beatles freak and we love the Beatles. So it’s called Blackbird after the Beatles. There’s all these pictures of the Beatles and different equipment they used. Even some of the board in there in the control room, the Beatles used on mastering certain things. It’s just really cool.”

One wonders if some of Lennon’s creativity rubbed off on the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Second Helping would go on to be one of the band’s most successful albums. Considering it featured tracks like ‘Sweet Home Alabama, ‘Workin’ for MCA, ‘Call Me the Breeze’ and ‘The Ballad of Curtis Loew,’ it’s easy to see why. The album peaked at Number 12 on the Billboard charts and was certified Gold just a few months after its release. Thus was the power of Lennon’s presence.