How Lynyrd Skynyrd's Street Survivors Foreshadowed Their Plane Crash

Lynyrd Skynyrd's 1977 album Street Survivors was, on all accounts, supposed to solidify the band as rock stars in the mainstream. Following their top 10 hit "Sweet Home Alabama" in 1974, the followup record was made with the intention of sealing the group's legacy. Three days after the fifth studio album was released on Oct. 17, 1977, the band's tour plane crashed, killing singer Ronnie Van Zant; guitarist Steve Gaines; Cassie Gaines, who was Steve's sister and backup singer; assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick; and both the pilot and co-pilot. Lynyrd Skynyrd's legacy was indeed sealed, albeit not the way members intended.

Per Check Six, the same plane had been inspected by members from Aerosmith's flight crew for possible use, but was rejected because neither the plane nor the crew were up to that band's standards.

Following the crash and the subsequent press coverage, the album became the band's second platinum record and reached number five on the U.S. album chart. The single "What's Your Name?" reached number 13 on the single airplay charts in January 1978. But given the increased focus on the band, some spooky details surrounding Street Survivors surfaced in the media, sparking controversy and odd rumors.

Don't judge an album by its cover

According to Ultimate Classic Rock, after the plane crash, the album cover became highly controversial: The original cover sleeve for Street Survivors featured a photograph of the southern rock group standing on a city street with all its buildings engulfed in flames. Some near the center nearly covered Steve Gaines's face altogether. The album also included an order form for a "Lynyrd Skynyrd Survival Kit," per Check Six.

Out of respect for those who died in the crash (particularly at the request of Teresa Gaines, Steve's widow), MCA Records pulled the original cover and replaced it with a similar image of the band against a black background. Conspiracy theorists have since claimed that only those band members touched by flames in the original album cover were killed in the crash, but that theory has been dismantled, as flames touch nearly all band members. Thirty years later, in 2008, the original "flames" cover was restored for the deluxe CD version of Street Survivors.