Miami celebrates life of Lynyrd Skynyrd musician and native Steve Gaines

70th birthday bash held for famous resident

Sweet Home Alabama, Free Bird and Simple Man.

Just a few of the worldwide hits by legendary rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, and performed by Miami, Oklahoma native Steve Gaines.

Steve and his sister Cassie grew up in Miami and played in several bands before joining Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1976.

The Gaines, as well as frontman Ronnie Van Zant, passed away in a plane crash in 1977.

Bob Poole grew up with Steve and Cassie — and considered them good friends.

“They were good friends of ours and we’re just trying to honor them on Steve’s 70th, this would have been Steve’s 70th birthday,” Poole explains.

Poole now serves on the Ottawa County Musician’s Tribute Committee and played a big role in honoring his friend on Saturday at the Coleman Theatre.

The committee put together a birthday bash for Gaines with music from tribute bands filled with former band members and friends from his early career.

Attendees also heard from Gene Odom who was the band’s security manager, and one of the survivors of the deadly plane crash.

Odom reminisced about a conversation he had with Van Zant when Gaines first joined the band.

“I said, boy, you got something special. He (Van Zant) said.. that Steve Gaines is the best thing to ever happen to this band.”

Sammie Ketcher was a member of two of Gaines bands when he first started, and says he was one of the most promising musicians he knew.

“There’s no telling what he would have developed cause he kept progressing. Whenever you saw him, he was always playing guitar,” Ketcher says.

This is the second year the committee has honored Gaines.

Last year, Steve and Cassie were inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, and the street they grew up on was named after them.

“It’s something we wanted to see done a long time ago, cause they didn’t realize how good he was.. they just didn’t realize it,” Ketcher explains. “I mean, that album that he’s on has sold over 50 million copies worldwide.”

And this year it’s about passing on his passion for music.

“Steve’s younger brother Bobby.. his last request as he died was that we get a scholarship going to NEO for promising music students. And that’s what this is all about,” Ketcher says.

A great night honoring a great musician and friend gone too soon.

If you want to donate to the Steve and Cassie Gaines Memorial Scholarship at NEO A&M College, mail your check to NEO Development Foundation, 200 I St NE, Miami, OK 74354.


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