Steve Gaines

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September 14, 1949 – October 20, 1977

Steve Gaines was a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter who grew up in Oklahoma idolizing pioneer rock bands of the ’60s . It was after attending a Beatles concert as a teenager that Steve convinced his dad to buy him a guitar and the young virtuoso never looked back. He bounced around several bands throughout his late teens and early 20s, eventually recording a solo album with various bandmates called One in the Sun. In 1975, Steve’s sister, Cassie, joined the skyrocketing southern rock band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, as a backing vocalist. Around the same time, Skynyrd guitarist, Ed King, abruptly left the band. Down to two guitarists from their customary three, the band went looking for a replacement for King. Cassie suggested that her brother try out.

In May of 1976, Gaines joined Skynyrd onstage and was an instant hit. His stellar guitar playing added a depth to the already deep line-up, but it was his singing and songwriting that impressed lead singer, Ronnie Van Zant, the most. With Gaines now as a full-time member, Skynyrd recorded the live album, One More from the Road, and got busy working on their fifth studio album, Street Survivors. The album would heavily feature Gaines’ influence on the band. He contributed his own songs and even sang co-vocals with Van Zant on the single “You Got That Right.” Street Survivors was released to positive reviews on October 17th, 1977.

Three days after the album was released, the chartered Convair aircraft that was carrying the band to a concert in Louisiana crashed after running out of fuel. Six people were killed, including Gaines, his sister, Cassie, and Van Zant. The initial album cover for Street Survivors – which showed Gaines standing in the center of the group, engulfed in flames – was pulled from shelves and replaced by a mostly black variant without the flames. The album would go on to be the band’s highest charting album. The surviving members of the band went on an indefinite hiatus in the wake of the crash.

Van Zant had made the comment shortly after meeting Gaines that “Someday we are all going to be in his shadow.” Sadly, that someday never came for either of them. Steve Gaines was just 28 years old.

Burial

Jacksonville Memory Gardens – Jacksonville, FL

Specific Location

Enter the cemetery and turn left toward the office/chapel. Steve and Cassie’s graves are across the road from the back of the office. Following the 2000 vandalism of their graves, Steve’s ashes were relocated to an undisclosed location, but his niche and marker remain.

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