If I Leave Here Tomorrow

If I Leave Here Tomorrow: A Film About Lynyrd Skynyrd 
2018 | Color | 1 Hr 35 Min | Documentary | TV-14 | Passion Pictures 

Director: Stephen Kijak

Writer: Stephen Kijak

Ronnie Van Zant
Gary Rossington
Johnny Van Zant

This authorized documentary will explore the music and backstory of the legendary American band. With the songs from the first six Skynyrd albums driving the narration, the film focuses on the story of frontman Ronnie Van Zant - his upbringing, his roots, his work ethic and his contradictory persona as both as a mythic Southern rock poet and notorious boozed-up brawler, as well as the relationships between his friends and fellow founding members Gary Rossington and Allen Collins, along with later bandmates Ed King and Artimus Pyle.

Come on we all yell "Free Bird" at concerts everywhere we go admit it! Well, thanks to Stephen Kijak's hard-hitting journey with southern rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd a truly kick-ass story unfolds in front of you. I promise this rockumentary will teach you something about the bad and how crazy they were. The movie does not claim to be the exhaustive history of the Southern rock band and thankfully steers clear of the new incarnation of the band (Sorry Johnny VanZant) we see touring today. Guitarist Gary Rossington ­ the sole original member of the current Skynyrd incarnation opens up like never before on the persona of singer Ronnie Van Zant, the band’s hard beginnings and the fatal 1977 plane crash.

1% was the band's original name.

From how the band met through the years, how the songs came about and all the way to how they got their name, your in for a special treat. For example, Leonard Skinner was a coach at Rossington’s high school, whose name elicited delight within drummer Bob Burns. Burns tells us how he suggested the moniker to the group after hearing a variant of it in the lyrics to the 1963 novelty hit “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh.” The group also used the name as shorthand to describe unexplained noises: “Oh, that’s Lynyrd Skynyrd!” says Burns had its name.

Some of the craziest stories easily come out of rehearsals at the “Hell House,” a cabin on a creek in the swamps of Florida, the band would forage hallucinogenic mushrooms from a nearby pasture.
Rossington says they’d find psilocybin mushrooms growing in the “cow patties” and make a pot of mushroom tea. “You take a few sips and you be tripping. The keyboard would be floating or I’d watch the notes coming out of my amp,” he says. But mushrooms weren’t the only drug of choice for Skynyrd. Rossington says everyone took speed and Allen Collins was apparently fond of sniffing glue. “You could put a model airplane together with his breath,” says early bassist Larry Junstrom that's Insane! Also never knew how hard these guys partied destroying hotel rooms to the point that their manager had to carry a suitcase of cash with them everywhere. 

The story comes to a sad close has surviving bandmates revisit in there minds that fatal plane crash. You can still see the pain and fear in there eyes as they go back in time. Dewain Easley, one of two crash historians interviewed talks about when he propped open the fuselage with a stick to peer inside. “I shined my flashlight up in there and my first thought was, ‘What’s a bunch of hippies doing on an airplane?’ Back in those days, hippies didn’t usually have any money.” Easley says playing cards were scattered everywhere and passengers – 26 in total were onboard – were moaning. “We were just farm boys, and didn’t know what we were doing – we just got ’em out.” 

“The one thing I want the world to know about my band is how bravely my band met their death … There was no panic, no chaos. Everyone was in prayer and deep thought,” says Artimus Pyle, who recalls the last time he saw Ronnie Van Zant. “Ronnie stopped by me in the aisle, we shook the old hippie handshake and he smiled and walked to the back of the plane.” This Documentary is fantastic from opening to close and could have gone on a little longer as I was invested in a story that needed to be told! I was only seven with the band's fatal day struck but as I grew into my teens I learned about the music rather quickly and have been a fan since. If I Leave Here Tomorrow is well worth your time!

4 out of 5 Stars


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