Street Survivors was released October 17, 1977, and on October 20, during the first week of a projected three month tour, Lynyrd Skynyrd's private 1947 Convair 240 turbo prop plane ran out of gas due to an "engine malfunction of undetermined nature," causing it to crash in a forest near McComb, Mississippi while attempting to land. Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, and Ronnie Van Zant were all killed instantly upon contact. The rest of the band and entourage all suffered serious injuries that, in some cases, caused permanent physical damage.
The irony of the plane crash is that it brought Lynyrd Skynyrd more national publicity thanever before, tragically branding the group with the reckless image their Survivors tour was designed to change.
That the accident happened just as Lynyrd Skynyrd appeared to be receiving broad-based acceptance and only shortly after Steve Gaines was fully integrated is one of the saddist tragedies in rock'n'roll history. The "legend" of Lynyrd Skynyrd is what the band had yet to achieve when they boarded that plane. While we celebrate their musical legacy, we can only imagine what was yet to be....."If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?"