Oct. 20, 1977: One plane crash changed Jacksonville's music scene forever

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It's been 40 years. Four decades. Almost 15,000 days and nights. 

That's how long it's been since a plane crash took the leader of Lynyrd Skynyrd, the most famous of Jacksonville's many rock bands. 

Ronnie Van Zant, born in Jacksonville in 1948, was one of six people killed on Oct. 20, 1977 when a twin-engine CV-240 ran out of fuel and crashed in rural Mississippi. 

Twenty people survived, but among the six dead were guitarist Steve Gaines and his sister Cassie were also killed. All three were laid to rest in Jacksonville's Memory Gardens, located next to the Orange Park Mall. 

Van Zant's remains were reinterred in Riverside Memorial Park in Jacksonville after his original resting place was disturbed in June 2000. His parents, Marion and Lacy, are buried next to him. A large park bearing the Van Zant name continues to serve Clay County after 20 years of operation. 

After the crash, the band's sound stayed alive with the success of .38 Special, a band that featured younger brother Donnie Van Zant. 

TELL US ON FACEBOOK: Did you ever go to Lynyrd Skynyrd concert before -- or after -- the crash? (You might have gone to the sold-out show in St. Augustine just last week). 

What is your favorite Lynyrd Skynyrd song? 

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