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New documentary features last 72 hours of Lynyrd Skynyrd

One of the survivors says he wants to "bring understanding to fans" about the band's last days.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — In 1977, the Jacksonville-based rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd suffered a great tragedy when a plane crash took the life of lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and others.

Now four decades, Gene Odom, one of the survivors, is releasing a documentary titled "I'll Never Forget You, the Last 72 hours of Lynyrd Skynyrd."

"October 20, 1977, seems like it was yesterday," Odom said. "Every morning and every night when I close my eyes because those words stick to me, 'you'll take care of me.'"

Odom said he was lead singer Ronnie Van Zant's security. He said Van Zant was asleep while the plane was crashing and he tried to wake him up.

"I said 'the plane is crashing Ronnie. I'm not joking' and it started hitting the trees. That's when I slapped him and said the plane is crashing," Odom said.

On Your Side caught up with Odom doing what he does when asked: Giving a tour of the band's history. 

Steve Mullen, a fan, drove from Lynchburg, Virginia, to see it first hand.

"I just kind of find out what made these guys tick when they were young guys," Mullen said.

Odom took him to the Van Zant's home, to the former corner store they patronized, to Ronnie Van Zant's gravesite, Lee High School and many more locations.

"I feel like this has really added a lot to my understanding," he said.

Odom said his documentary, which is based on his 1983 book, will bring understanding to fans about those last 72 hours.

"The last words Ronnie Van Zant heard were from Gene Odom," he said. "And I'll tell you a secret: The last song he ever heard was Rambling Fever by Merle Haggard."

Concrete Lion pictures and MVD Entertainment worked with Odom to tell a story he said that has yet to be heard.

"It is a story about me and Ronnie," he said.

The premiere screening was Thursday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. at Sun-Ray Cinema on Park Street in Riverside.

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