American rock vocalist/guitaris Donnie Van Zant was born June 11, 1952, in Jacksonville, Florida) is an t. He is best known as having been a member of the band 38 Special, from its formation in 1974 until 2013. He is the middle of three brothers: his older brother Ronnie was the original lead singer for Lynyrd Skynyrd who died in a 1977 plane crash in Mississippi along with five other members and associates of the band; his younger brother Johnny is the current Lynyrd Skynyrd’s lead singer since 1987. Donnie and Johnny also perform together from time to time as the group Van Zant.
Donnie Van Zant has been unable to join the band’s performances for the past 6 months due to health issues related to inner-ear nerve damage, he will also not be able to join 38 Special onstage in the foreseeable future. Donnie will continue to write and record with the band.” However, it was announced later in 2013 that he had officially left 38 Special, and was retiring. Van Zant is a fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He recorded a video, along with remaining members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, that is played at every Jaguars home game on the Everbank Field video board.
Lynyrd Skynyrd are known for popularizing the Southern hard rock genre during the 1970s Lynyrd Skynyrd were Originally formed In the summer of 1964, when teenage friends Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, and Gary Rossington formed the band “The Noble Five” in Jacksonville, Florida. The band changed in 1965 to “My Backyard”, when Larry Junstrom and Bob Burns joined. In 1968, the group won a local Battle of the Bands contest and the opening slot on several Southeast shows for the California-based psychedelic rock band Strawberry Alarm Clock. the group eventually settled on the name “Leonard Skinner”, a mocking tribute to a physical-education teacher at Robert E. Lee High School, Leonard Skinner, who was notorious for strictly enforcing the school’s policy against boys having long hair.
During the 1970′s the band experienced many line-up changes and in 1972 the band was discovered at one of their shows at a club in Atlanta, GA. They soon changed the spelling of their name to “Lynyrd Skynyrd”and their fan base continued to grow rapidly throughout 1973, largely due to their opening slot on The Who’s Quadrophenia tour in the United States. Their 1974 follow-up, Second Helping, was the band’s breakthrough hit, and featured their most popular single, “Sweet Home Alabama” helping them rise to worldwide recognition. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s third album, Nuthin’ Fancy, was released in 1975 and the fourth album Gimme Back My Bullets was released in January 1976, but did not achieve the same success as the previous two albums. Steve Gaines joined the band in June 1976 and the newly-reconstituted band recorded the double-live album One More From the Road at the Fox Theatre (Atlanta, Georgia) in Atlanta, and performed at the Knebworth festival, which also featured The Rolling Stones. The next album 1977′s Street Survivors turned out to be a showcase for guitarist/vocalist Steve Gaines and included the iconic rock anthem “Free Bird”.
Sadly though, On October 20, 1977, just three days after the release of Street Survivors, and at the peak of their success, three members (Including Steve Gaines) all died in an airplane crash, Following the crash and the ensuing press, Street Survivors became the band’s second platinum album and reached No. 5 on the U.S. album chart. The single “What’s Your Name” reached No. 13 on the single airplay charts in January 1978. Surviving members re-formed in 1987 for a reunion tour with lead singer Ronnie Van Zant’s younger brother Johnny as frontman. A version of the band continues to tour and record, with only Gary Rossington of its original members remaining as of 2012. Lynyrd Skynyrd was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 13, 2006