Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#8); 1974

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

California-born guitarist Ed King was on tour in Florida with the Strawberry Alarm Clock – of Incense And Peppermints fame – when he met Ronnie Van Zant, leader of One Percent. Van Zant and his fellow Percenters were knocked out by King’s ax-work: so much so that when Leon Wilkeson left the band – now called Lynyrd Skynyrd – just before work began on its first album, they called on King. King took over at bass until Wilkeson’s return, then switched over to guitar. For the second album the Skynyrds recorded an early song they’d saved for when they needed a strong track: Sweet Home Alabama. Originally written as a tribute to Alabama’s Muscle Shoals studios and its Swampers house band, Van Zant now added lyrics in a good-natured response to Neil Young’s Southern Man. The released version featured a one-take King solo, an off-mic snippet of producer Al Kooper impersonating Young, and back up vocals by Clydie King and Merry Clayton of the Sweet Inspirations.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2023 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • Al Kooper

Lyrics Written by:

  • Ed King
  • Gary Rossington
  • Ronnie Van Zant