Blues Commission clarifies Skynyrd crash site marker report

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The 1977 plane crash in Mississippi that killed three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd may be commemorated with a marker someday, but it won’t be a Mississippi Blues Trail Marker. 

While recent reports have stated that a Blues Trail Marker has been approved, Kempf Poole, Mississippi Blues Commission chairman, says that while the tragic day should be formally honored, the Blues Trail isn’t the right place.

After two representatives pitched the marker to the commission on June 20th, they began their review. The proposal was then sent on to ‘blues scholars’ that weigh in on all submissions. According to Poole, the scholars came to the commission with the recommendation that while significant, the Blues Trail may not be the right place to commemorate the crash because they are not a ‘blues’ band.

“The scholars agreed with what the commission was not saying, but what we thought; that it’s very worthy of a marker but not a Blues Trail Marker. It’s probably more in line to be a historical marker,” he said.

The Department of Archives and History handles state historical markers. Jim Woodrick, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, said that he would be happy to meet with the representatives seeking a marker.

While reiterating his desire to see a historical marker for the crash, Poole went on to reflect on the significance of the event.

“It is a very impactful day that impacted the music of Lynyrd Skynyrd forever, and it happened in the state of Mississippi right as they were hitting their stride to become one of the biggest rock and roll acts of all time, and I certainly think it’s worthy of a marker.”

“I want a marker for that as bad as anybody, but I don’t think it needs to be a Blues Trail Marker,” Poole concluded.

Poole applauded the representatives from McComb for their passion and for doing their due diligence, but he said they just need to present their plan to the right people.

Several reports stated that the proposed Blues Trail Marker would’ve been placed near the crash site on HWY 569 in Gillsburg. Lead vocalist/founding member Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist and vocalist Steve Gaines, back-up vocalist Cassie Gaines (Steve’s older sister), assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary, and co-pilot William Gray were all killed in the crash on October 20, 1977.

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