Play “Sweet Home Alabama” This Week! RIP, Ed King, Guitarist for Lynyrd Skynyrd

Today we lost Ed King, the guitarist for the iconic southern rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd. He’s the one whose voice can be heard counting down at the very beginning of their most famous hit, “Sweet Home Alabama.”

Ed King left the group before the disastrous plane crash in 1977 that killed three of the band members. (Ugh, read that article to get a chill—their plan was to buy a new plane after this one last flight!) 

If you have never played any southern rock in your classes, you are missing out! We’ll be adding a few Lynyrd Skynyrd songs to our RIP 2018 playlist later this year (let’s hope it’s not a huge list like the past few years have been!). In the meantime, here are a few tracks you can sprinkle into your playlists as a tribute to one of the more recognizable southern rock groups in the country.

Sweet Home Alabama, 4:44, 98 bpm

Use this for a fast flat at almost any intensity, from an active recovery between harder efforts, to a paceline drill alternating from moderate to hard, to a hard push at threshold. 

Swamp Music, 3:31, 93 bpm

Another fun fast flat. When they sing “swamp, swamp, swamp music,” add a little more resistance and surge for a handful of seconds. 

They Call Me the Breeze, 5:10, 95 bpm

More of that telltale Lynyrd Skynyrd guitar in this one. Yes, most of their more popular songs are in this faster rpm range. Looks like your tribute ride might have to include a lot of faster efforts…maybe a racing profile is in order? 

Free Bird, 9:07, 118–148 bpm

Yes…a climbing song! This power ballad first appeared in 1973 and again on subsequent albums. Freebird gets a bad rap and is sometimes the butt of jokes at weddings, where it is often humorously called out for DJs to play, but it can be a memorable (and rarely used) song that will drive your class to work really hard on a climb. This is one of the few songs that changes rhythm mid-way through, giving you an unusual opportunity to use the tempo to increase intensity, not just the resistance. You don’t even need to coach very much—let the tempo do that for you and just ride.

Start out at a moderate climb. It begins to subtly speed up around 2:10, then at 2:40 goes back to 118. Then at 4:15 it begins creeping up again until 4:43, where it hits the fastest rhythm of 148 bpm. This means your cadence has gone from about 58 rpm to 75 rpm. If you didn’t touch anything, you are working harder. Maybe even really hard. 

I’ll let you and your riders decide when and how often to stand. 

Have you ever used “Free Bird”? Any other Lynyrd Skynyrd favorites you’d like to share? 

1 Comment

  1. Love IT all!
    When they hear the beginning notes of “FREE BIRD” they moan!
    Great motivation! Thanks for article.

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