Ronnie Van Zant was born in Jacksonville, Florida. Van Zant is best known as the lead singer and founding member the 1970s southern rock band, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Together with Allen Collins, Van Zant co-wrote many of the bands hit songs including “Sweet Home Alabama”, “The Ballad of Curtis Loew”, “Mr. Saturday Night Special”, and “Freebird”.
On October 20, 1977, Ronnie Van Zant was killed along with band members Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines, when the band’s chartered flight to Baton Rouge crashed in West Mississippi.
Van Zant was originally buried in Orange Park, Florida, in 1977, but was relocated after vandals broke into his and bandmate Steve Gaines’ tombs on June 29, 2000. Van Zant’s casket was pulled out and dropped on the ground. The bag containing Gaines’ ashes was torn open and scattered onto the grass. All three graves have been relocated to Riverside Memorial Park. Their mausoleums at Orange Park remain as memorials for fans to visit.