I would like to say thanks to John Shearer and the editors at the Mountain Mirror and www.chattanoogan.com for running the article detailing Lynyrd Skynyrd's appearance at Baylor in 1973. I was a student attending that evening, my junior year, and it was one I will never forget.
Those were the days of change, for better or worse, when Vietnam, the first televised war, was coming to its unglamorous end, and rock and roll, with its anti-establishment message was challenging our parents' notions and morals. I will never forget the look of utter shock on some of the faculty faces when they saw the "hippies" that comprised the band, with their long, long hair, tattoos and ragged bell-bottom jeans. They might as well have been Hell's Angels bikers as far as the teachers were concerned.
I remember that after they had played a couple of songs, and no one was dancing yet, Van Zandt stepped up to the mic and admonished the students for not dancing, saying that the band would play a song that maybe we could relate to. They broke into "Chattanooga Choo Choo," which got a laugh, but it broke the ice and everyone started dancing after that.
I was very impressed with the music, and during their first break I approached the band, told them as much. I told them they should really consider recording an album, not knowing they had already recorded "Pronounced." The reaction was underwhelming. They didn't even bother to tell this preppie school kid that they already had an album, they just mumbled like, "Yeah, great. Thanks kid."
Ever since that day, whenever I meet a Skynyrd fan, I always brag that they played at my high school dance, and I count myself among the very few present that special night who have ever heard their rendition of "Chattanooga Choo Choo." Thanks Joe (Martin)!
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I would like to say thanks to the Chattanoogan.com and Mark Robinson for posting the story about Skynyrd playing at Baylor. I pride myself on rock trivia and also Chattanooga trivia and I'm humbled to admit I've never heard this story. I think it's cool. Thanks for sharing some Chatt-town cultural history.