Solving The Mystery Of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Connecticut Bus Crash in ’74
Just when I thought I'd seen, read and heard it all about the history of Lynyrd Skynyrd along comes another documentary to prove me wrong.
If you are a big Lynyrd Skynyrd fan then you will probably agree that there are plenty of books, documentaries and films on the band to dive into. So when the latest documentary from Showtime called "If I Leave Here Tomorrow" was being promoted I figured it would be yet another rehash of a story that's been told time and time again: Local street-tough kids from the South make it big before tragedy strikes at the height of their success. Not so.
This documentary is not just a must-see for Lynyrd Skynyrd fans but for music fans in general. Heck, it's even worthy of viewing even if you're not a music fan but simply a fan of great film-making. Credit goes to Director Stephen Kijak, Cinematographer Derek Wiesehahn, Executive Producer John Miller-Monzon along with Producers John Battsek and Diane Becker who created not just a documentary but a piece of film art that depicts the band in a way no other has. Along with the beautifully shot and produced images in the doc come some interesting reveals; one having to do with an event that occurred in Waterbury, CT on this weekend back in 1974.
As the documentary gets into the band's early-day grueling tour schedule guitarist Ed King (who, sadly, just recently passed away) talks about his time touring with the band from 1972 to 1975. He began to express his disapproval for the destructive nature of his band-mates on the road when he followed with this story:
There was one place in Waterbury, CT, I'll never forget it. We had our first bus. Somebody had left the break off, the bus had careened through the parking lot, over a sports car, through the gas station and lodged into the bank. I thought that was hilarious and that was I'm sure on purpose. O.K. so I'm a hypocrite, so I thought some of the destruction was funny.
-Ed King from 'If I Leave Here Tomorrow'
Thanks to the folks who made the documentary we know when this story took place and that was Saturday night, September 7th 1974. That would place the show at the legendary Waterbury Place Theater. It was just the third show into their tour to support the 'Nuthin' Fancy' album. You can see the band's full tour itinerary HERE. A fan who goes by drowser598 on YouTube posted the clip which you can see below:
Did you happen to notice someone wrote the words "Lousy Gig" under Sept. 7 on the calendar? Funny to see that but I'm not sure if that's an actual document or something drawn up strictly for the documentary. If the band did have a "lousy gig" I wonder if it was because they thought they performed badly or just because a bus careened over a car, through a gas station and into a bank that night!
Shortly after seeing this documentary I asked family members, friends and co-workers who are big Skynyrd fans and were in their teens or 20s back in '74 about this story to see if they'd been there. No luck. In fact, they never even knew about this story. If you watch closely to that clip you'll see a newspaper headline that reads: "Bus 'Rocks' Bank". Unfortunately, I searched but I couldn't find that article anywhere online.
Here's where you come in.
Were you there on the night of September 7th, 1974? We'd love to hear your story if so. Where was the bank and is it still there? Where was the gas station? Was that your sports car?! If so, sorry to hear. Just post your comments below or on our Facebook page and help us recreate a moment in Connecticut concert history.