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This Day in Rock History: October 20

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On this day in rock history, tragedy derailed what had been an initial burst of success for Lynyrd Skynyrd. Over a few short years, the group had already fashioned career-making songs like “Free Bird,” “Gimme Three Steps” and “Sweet Home Alabama”; their just-released album Street Survivors was quickly streaking toward gold-selling status. But then Lynyrd Skynyrd’s twin engine plane went down in a swamp at Gillsburg, Miss., killing three band members, a tour manager and both pilots.

In happier news, Tom Petty was also born in Gainesville, Fla., on this date. Led Zeppelin, meanwhile, celebrated the New York City premiere of their ambitious concert film The Song Remains the Same, though it ultimately divided critics and fans alike.

The Police played their first-ever concert in the U.S., appearing for two late-night sets at CBGB’s after a grueling trip. Outlandos d’Amour, the Police’s well-received debut, had not yet arrived – so that meant flying to America on a budget ticket, carrying their instruments and then traveling from city to city in an old Ford Econoline. Of course, much would change in the years ahead.

Watch an exciting recap of many of the day’s biggest rock anniversaries above, narrated by our radio host Zach Martin. And learn more about these and other important events by clicking the links below.

News Anniversaries:
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane goes down
The Police play their first U.S. show (1978)

Album Anniversaries:
John Lennon – Shaved Fish (1975)
Led Zeppelin – The Song Remains the Same (1976)
U2 – Boy (1980)

Birthdays:
Tom Petty (1950)

The Top 100 Rock Albums of the ‘70s

Top 10 Lynyrd Skynyrd Songs

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