On October 20th 1977, Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines from Lynyrd Skynyrd were all killed along with manager Dean Kilpatrick when their rented plane ran out of fuel and crashed into a densely wooded thicket in the middle of a swamp in Gillsburg, Missouri. The crash seriously injured the rest of the band and crew who were due to play at Louisiana University that evening.
Ronnie was later laid to rest with his trademark Texas Hatters black hat and favorite fishing pole. Ronnie was memorialized with a simple, ten minute private service under cloudy skies in Orange Park, Florida surrounded by 150 close friends and family. Following a taped recording of David Allen Coe's 'Another Pretty Country Song', Charlie Daniels sang 'Amazing Grace'. Standing in front of the rose-covered brass coffin, minister David Evans, who had recently performed Gary's wedding, led the mourners with the message that Ronnie was not dead; that he lived on in heaven in spirit and on earth in song.