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Lynyrd Skynyrd and Charlie Daniels: Southern Rockers Who AVOID Barroom Brawls

In the early 1970s a wave of southern rock groups including the Allman Brothers, the Marshall Tucker Band, ZZ Top, the Charlie Daniels Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd began to break the dominance of the British Invasion band charter. These southern rockers, with their harder edges and deep roots in the blues, were not unlike more traditional rock bands such as Poco, the Flying Burrito Brothers and New Riders of the Purple Sage. The new rock anthems of the south were full of macho stereotypes, many of which involved drinking and fighting.

In 1973 Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Charlie Daniels Band incorporated bars and brawls into their first single. Instead of the swagger you’d expect, the two songs – CDB’s “Uneasy Rider” and Skynyrd’s “Gimme Three Steps” – were proud of how they managed to stay out the fights.

“Gimme Three Steps,” produced by Al Kooper of Blues Project and famous Blood, Sweat and Tears, was written by Skynyrd guitarist Allen Collins and lead singer Ronnie Van Zant. The song tells the story of what happens to Ronnie when a jealous boy catches him while dancing in a bar “with a girl named Linda Lou.”

“Gimme Three Steps” came to be in Jacksonville, Florida during a visit to the WT West Tavern with Van Zant, Collins and guitarist Gary Rossington. A girl asked Van Zant to dance, which was only a problem when her boyfriend came and fought a fight.

“(T) he pulled out a gun and said he was going to blow Ronnie’s brains,” Rossington said. “And Ronnie said, ‘Please don’t let me go. I don’t know the girl. I don’t want to see her again.’ And he turned around and said, ‘If you are going to shoot me, you will have to shoot me in the ass or elbows.’ “

The trio headed towards the door and wrote “Gimme Three Steps” in the car on the way home.

“Uneasy Rider,” written by Charlie Daniels, tells the funny story of a long-haired stoner who breaks his car outside a redneck bar in Jackson, Mississippi. To get out of trouble, Daniels accuses one of the locals of being a spy. Daniels said he wrote “Uneasy Rider” while at a rock festival in Baton Rogue, Louisiana in 1969, just after the film’s release Easy Rider.

At the climax of the film, the long-haired bikes driving through Dixie are released when the locals didn’t like their look. Members of the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Plane playing at the concert believed that the art could then be realized in Baton Rogue.

“I was born and raised in the South and I thought it was kind of funny, that attitude,” Daniels said. “And I think that’s what started thinking in that direction.”

But the case – and the bar – was pure fiction even though Daniels formed the line, “I reached out and kicked ol ‘Green Teeth right in the knee” of someone he knew. “I once knew a man who had green teeth. He had tartar on his teeth, and they turn green if they don’t get out of it,” Daniels said. “And that’s where he came from.”

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