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This 1970s Rock Star Predicted His Own Death

The chances of dying in a plane crash are very slim- roughly one in five million, to be exact. However, that’s exactly what happened to three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1977, including lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, who was just 29 years old at the time. The news shocked and saddened music fans all around the world, but Van Zant himself saw it coming. In fact, the 70s rock legend had predicted his own death multiple times.

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Van Zant Accepted His Fate

The fateful night took place on October 20th, 1977, when Van Zant and his bandmates boarded their Convair CV-240 bound for Louisiana. The plane had been around for 30 years and had taken 30,000 flights. It also had a slew of issues, including insufficient fuel for the trip, and a sputtering right engine that had been ignored on its recent flights.

Photo: en.wikipedia.org/APA-Agency for the Performing Arts-management

Despite these issues, the band got on the plane and did what rock stars in the 1970’s did… they partied! All was well until the right engine went out, and everybody started panicking. That is, everybody except Ronnie Van Zant. Drummer Artimus Pyle, who survived the crash, recounted that Van Zant simply got up from the floor where he had been receiving a massage, went over to shake Pyle’s hand, and calmly walked to his seat. Van Zant was about to die. He knew, and had accepted this fact for a while now.

Photo: flickr.com/Sandy Auriene Sullivan

He Told Everyone He Would Die Before 30

Ronnie Van Zant may have escaped the “27 Club” that Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison fell victim to in the 1970s, but he always felt that he wouldn’t live to see 30. In fact, he regularly told anybody who would listen, long before the disastrous flight that took his life at 29.

Pyle even recalled a quote from Van Zant while Lynyrd Skynyrd was on tour in Japan, saying, “Ronnie told me that he would never live to see thirty, and that he would go out with his boots on, in other words, on the road.” Pyle continued, “I said, ‘Ronnie, don’t talk like that,’ but the man knew his destiny.” Van Zant not only knew his destiny, but had fiercely accepted it, to the point where it concerned his friends and family. His own father backs up Pyle’s claims, confirming that his son had a “second sight” and would share his dark prediction with anyone and everyone. Despite a steady music career, two small children and a legion of adoring fans… Van Zant told his father that he “would never be 30 years old, that’s my limit.” 

Photo: flickr.com/Experiment 33

Ronnie Wasn’t the Only One

Van Zant wasn’t the only member of Lynyrd Skynyrd with great intuition. Shortly before the band boarded the faulty plane, backup singer JoJo Billingsley had a nightmare that the plane had crashed and burst into flames with everybody on it. She tried to convince guitarist Allen Collins not to get on the plane, but her plea fell on deaf ears. Collins survived, but Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and backup vocalist Cassie Gaines did not. 

Could Ronnie Van Zant have actually been a fortune teller, on top of an acclaimed musician? One could even say he manifested his own death by constantly telling everybody who would listen that he was going to die soon. Over 40 years after his death, how he was so sure of his own demise is still a mystery. But one thing is certain- that plane crash is still one of the saddest, and most eerie events in rock and roll history.