How To Make Friends And Influence Lynyrd Skynyrd

A roadie wrote one of the most iconic piano parts in rock history. 

It’s a reminder: the stronger your network is, the more greatness you’ll have in your gravitational pull. In people, in luck, and in potential. 

Lynyrd Skynyrd were recording tracks and trying to piece “Free Bird” together in the studio when they hit the classic creative roadblock known as… lunch. 

While they were out grabbing a bite, one of their roadies sat down at the piano and started to mess around with the chords. His name was Billy Powell. Before his days hauling gear, he was a classically trained pianist and childhood friend to one of the band members. Nobody knew he could “play.” 

The band came back from lunch, heard what he was doing, and immediately decided to record his part and use it as the now-famous intro to the song. Not long after, Powell became an official member of the band. 

We won’t know what our people know unless we give them chances to express themselves. 

The people in our networks won’t know what we know unless we express ourselves. 

Build and maintain strong networks and unlock unpredictable potential. 

Fly on, free bird.

Ps. There are competing versions of this story on Wikipedia. I’m telling the version I heard in the recording studio/label documentary, “Muscle Shoals.”