Guitar Gallows Bio Information - Steve Gaines
Steven Earl Gaines (September 14, 1949 – October 20, 1977) was an American musician. He is most well-known as a guitarist and songwriter for southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, and is the younger brother of Cassie Gaines, who was also a member of the band. He was born on the same day as Ed King, who he would replace as a guitarist for Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1976.
Gaines was born in Seneca, Missouri, and raised in Miami, Oklahoma. He began playing guitar after seeing The Beatles in concert as a teenager. His first band, The Ravens, made its first recording at the famous Sun Records Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. Gaines later played with bands ILMO Smokehouse, Rusty Day, Detroit and Crawdad in the 1970s. He also recorded several songs with friend and producer John Ryan that were later released in 1988 by MCA Records as his only solo album, One in the Sun.
In December 1975, Gaines' older sister, Cassie, became a member of Lynyrd Skynyrd's female backup singers, The Honkettes.
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During this time, the band was in the midst of searching for a guitarist to replace Ed King, who'd left the band in mid-1975. Cassie recommended her brother, and after initial reluctance, the band allowed Gaines to join them onstage for a show in Kansas City on May 11, 1976. Although the band themselves couldn't hear Gaines' playing onstage, soundman Kevin Elson was listening through headphones and told the band that Gaines was an outstanding player. They jammed with Gaines informally a couple of more times, then invited him into the band just in time for the recording of Skynyrd's live album One More From The Road. The first of three shows recorded for the album was Gaines' third gig with the band. Interestingly, Ed King and Steve Gaines were both born on September 14, 1949.
Gaines' guitar and songwriting skills were a major revelation to the band, as proven on his one studio album, 1977's Street Survivors. Publicly and privately, Ronnie Van Zant marvelled at the vocal and instrumental skill of Skynyrd's newest member, claiming that the band would "all be in his shadow one day." Gaines' contributions included his co-lead vocal with Van Zant on the co-written "You Got That Right" (a solid hit single released after the plane crash) and the rousing guitar boogie "I Know A Little" which he had written before he joined Skynyrd. So confident was Skynyrd's leader of Gaines' abilities that the album (and some concerts) featured Gaines delivering his self-penned bluesy "Ain't No Good Life" - the only song in the pre-crash Skynyrd catalog to feature a lead vocalist other than Ronnie Van Zant.
On October 20, 1977, three days after the album was released (and four dates into the band's most successful tour yet), a plane carrying the band between shows from Greenville, South Carolina to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, crashed outside of Gillsburg, Mississippi. Steve Gaines was killed on impact; he was 28 years old. The crash also killed Ronnie Van Zant, Steve's sister Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, as well as pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray.
Gaines was cremated and buried in Orange Park, Florida in 1977, but was relocated to an undisclosed location after vandals broke into his and bandmate Ronnie Van Zant's tombs on June 29, 2000. Their mausoleums remain as memorials for fans to visit.
Gaines is the subject of the 2001 song "Cassie's Brother" by rock band Drive-By Truckers.
Less than two years after the plane crash, the Gaines' mother, Cassie LaRue Gaines, was killed in an automobile accident near the cemetery where Steve and Cassie were buried. She was buried near her children.