“Roadies” sure knows how to tell a story. In the latest episode, “The All Night Bus Ride,” Phil (Ron White) took center stage as he told the tale of exactly how he got his start in the music business — and it’s all thanks to Lynyrd Skynyrd.
The rock band from the 1970s made quite an impact in a very short amount of time and Phil was seemingly there for just about all of the ride. How true was that story, though?
Surprisingly, quite a bit of that story sticks close to what actually happened. Skynyrd’s meteoric rise took them around the world and lead singer Ronnie Van Zant’s — played in the episode by Nathan Sutton — issues with Neil Young weren’t quite the blood feud many seem to remember them being.
In fact, by all accounts, the two were actually friends, regardless of the shade thrown in “Sweet Home Alabama.” It turns out there was one southern man that did need Young around and it was Van Zant.
That doesn’t mean Van Zant and his band were friendly with everyone, though. As portrayed on “Roadies,” Lynyrd Skynyrd was always up for a fight, no matter where in the world they were. While it’s unclear just how much the band liked to brawl, there are reports that they certainly liked to get rowdy.
There are a number of accounts from over the years of fighting within the band, followed by immediately making up. There’s even a story about their crew of roadies getting into a scuffle with Blue Oyster Cult’s crew.
Unfortunately, the most tragic portion of Phil’s story is true, as well. On the night of Oct. 20, 1977, a plane carrying the band crashed after running out of fuel, killing Van Zant and fellow band members Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines, along with three others.
As mentioned in the episode, this particular airplane was passed over previously by another rock act. In the book “Walk This Way: The Autobiography of Aerosmith,” the author Stephen Davis recounts that the band’s flight crew rejected the plane due to it not meeting their standards.
Following the crash, Lynyrd Skynyrd went on a hiatus that lasted a decade, before re-debuting with Van Zan’t little brother Johnny at the helm. They continue to record and tour today, though they’ve undergone a number of lineups. As it stands, there is only one member of the original lineup — Gary Rossington — currently involved.
So it turns out the “Roadies” account of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s story as actually rather spot on. They were a once-in-a-lifetime band whose story is rarely told. Luckily, Phil’s here to change that.
It’s important to note, though, that while much of the story is based on the real life travels and adventures of the band, Phil’s character is purely fictional. He was created for the show and placed into Lynyrd Skynyrd’s timeline for purposes of the series.
What a story he told, though.