This song began as a ballad without the guitar solos at the end, and Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded it that way for the first time in 1972. Guitarist Allen Collins had been working on the song on and off for the previous 2 years. At the time of recording, the song was only 7 1/2 minutes long, but throughout the next year, Collins continued to refine the song until it was recorded for the final cut of Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd in 1973.
Those were the times when rock singer were working for years for a great song!
Skynyrd has played this only as an instrumental since the 1977 plane crash that killed lead singer Ronnie Van Zant. His brother, Johnny, took his place. For a while, he wouldn't sing it - the band played it as an instrumental and the crowd would sing the words.
Another great version of the song was recorded at the BBC Sessions in 1975.