Allen Collins - guitar; Ed King - guitar; Artimus Pyle - drums; Gary Rossington - guitar; Ronnie Van Zant - lead vocals; Leon Wilkeson - bass, background vocals
By the time Lynyrd Skynyrd played this sold-out show at San Francisco's Winterland ballroom, they had become the unmistakable kings of Southern Rock. Spearheaded by charismatic frontman, Ronnie Van Zant, the group had taken southern boogie from the swamps and brought it to the masses.
There is an enormous amount of energy and power in the multiple guitar mix of the band, and that is clearly apparent when they launch into solos on these songs. The group had built a solid following via AOR radio by 1975, and songs like "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Free Bird" had given the band enormous crossover appeal. The group was coming off two hugely successful albums, its debut (pronounced leh-nerd skin-nerd) and 1974's Second Helping, and they had recently replaced original drummer Bob Burns with Artimus Pyle.
This show was recorded during the band's tour promoting their 1975 album, Nuthin' Fancy, and it features Lynyrd Skynyrd at the top of their game. It was also one of the last shows featuring their original three-guitar lineup, as Ed King left the band midway through the tour. Skynyrd confidently played its brand of riff-driving Southern fried rock boogie to near capacity crowds on this entire '75 tour.
Poignant songs like "The Needle And The Spoon" are balanced against established Skynyrd rockers such as "Saturday Night Special" and "Gimmie Three Steps." Songs like "Whiskey Rock-A-Roller", J.J. Cale's "Call Me The Breeze", and "Sweet Home Alabama" are played here in their early forms—many of these classics would re-emerge as part of the must-do repertoire of so many country artists.
The band ends the show with a predictable but crowd-pleasing, version of its radio anthem, "Free Bird." Sadly, the band would change drastically when some of its members, including lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, would die in a plane crash two years after this show was recorded.