Gary Rossington recalled how Lynyrd Skynyrd’s signature song “Free Bird” had a difficult development, and then picked up speed and length as they continued to work on it.

Singer Ronnie Van Zant originally struggled with guitarist Allen Collins’ composition until slowly but surely they began to find some middle ground, as Rossington told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show.

“Allen Collins had the chords all written, and he had planned a lot and he was trying to get Ronnie to write lyrics to it,” Rossington said. “Ronnie thought there was too many chord changes. So it took about two or three weeks of Allen playing the chords around. Then one day [Van Zant] just went, ‘Hey, play that again.’ That’s what he’d do – if something caught his ear, he’d go, ‘Play that a few times.’ But it would really be a half-hour, an hour he’d play it.”

What followed was an idea for “just a love song,” Rossington recalled. “A real simple love song about leaving – you know, ‘Would you remember me?’ It’s a true story about him. He wrote it really quick.”

He admitted the band didn't expect what came next. “With just jamming and playing, it got longer and longer and longer as we played it," he said. "At first it didn’t have the end, the long guitar end; it was just the slow love song. Then we came up with the end, and as we practiced every day, it came along.”

Listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd's ‘Free Bird’

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See Lynyrd Skynyrd Among the Top 25 Southern Rock Albums

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