Being raised in San Francisco, I use to spend my summer days at Konocti Harbor Inn, a nice
resort on Clear Lake just 100 miles north of the Golden Gate. I remember listening to "Gimme Back My Bullets" and "I Need You" along with other Skynyrd hits on our drive from Cobb Mountain to Konocti Harbor Inn. That was 1976.
On January 25th, 1998 after flying from Honolulu to SFO and driving straight to Konocti to see my favorite band of all time. I arrived just after the start of the Super Bowl. Jimi (Hawk) Meisel and myself start to have a few drinks and set in for what would be a intimate night with Lynyrd Skynyrd (thats what they billed it as). Around 7:00pm I ran into Jim Scalia and Steve "Boxcar" Traum. Jim Scalia told me I was on the record companies list for a complimentary ticket but that there would be no meet and greet with the band. He also didn't have a photo pass for me either. Soon after Steve Cox (Lynyrd Skynyrd's Manager) arrived. I had brought photographs I had taken during the summer when Lynyrd Skynyrd was in Concord and Mountain View. They all liked what they saw and I was giving a pass to shoot the show. I asked Boxcar and Jim to inform the band of the photographs and see if Johnny Van Zant would be interested in checking them out. Johnny met with me and I gave him some of the photographs of him and Gary. I asked Johnny if Gary was available and he informed me that Gary wasn't feeling good and that he wanted to be alone. I asked Johnny if he would take a few photographs back to Gary for him to sign. A few minutes later from behind a closed door came Johnny and Gary. Gary said "How ya doing brother". We shook hands and all of a sudden out came Leon and Ricky. I gave them photographs and they autographed copies for me. Hugh followed. Dale appeared and asked that I send her photographs of her and Gary in the Rossington Collins days. Gary had liked a photograph that I took at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco back in 81. I asked were Billy was and the members said he was in the private dressing room. Boxcar escorted me back to meet with Billy where Billy signed a photograph and I hung out for a few as Lynyrd Skynyrd perpared to take the stage. I was the only person outside their organization to be backstage. I realized it was time for them to be alone and I motioned for the door when they all said thank you and take care. I remember Gary while straightening his hat looking up and nodding to me saying, "Thank you brother" I through up a peace sign and thanked them as well.
I then went to take a place up front and low and be hold in the second row of tables was a seat dead center. I sat down ordered a Stoli and cran and out went the lights. "We Aint Much Different at All" started the set that was to contain "I Aint The One", "That Smell", "The Balled of Curtis Loew" and "Needle and the Spoon" to name a few. When Gary started off "Simple Man" I sat back to hear my all time favorite. Leon tossed me his pick and turned to grab another. I got eye contact with Gary and with alittle sign language asked for his. Never really knowing if he was understanding me. At the end of the song Gary walked to the front of the stage and flung the pick to me. The versions of "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Freebird" were impecable, it was one of the best shows I've seen...ever! The crowd was on its feet the entire show. After the show Leon played with a band out of San Francisco called Blind Nurse that was playing the bar. It was interesting to see Leon playing Zeppelin, ACDC and other 70's classics.
I would like to give thanks to the following peoples...
Susan, Michelle and Cindy at Alliance Artists. Jim Scalia, Steve Cox and Steve Traum,
Gary, Dale, Leon, Billy, Johnny, Rickey, Hugh and Owen. To Ronnie, Steve, Allen and Cassie.
Jim's Lynyrd Skynyrd Site
Created by Jim 5/26/97