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Return of the Survivors

Saturday, October 9th @ 6:30 PM

On October 9th Gene Odom and Craig Reed, two survivors from the October 20th Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane crash, reunite to celebrate a Lakeland Police Department officer.

It’s been over 40 years since Gene Odom and Craig Reed were together as part of the road crew for Lynyrd Skynyrd. They were together at the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert in Lakeland at the Civic Center October 18, 1977. Two days later their plane went down in Gillsburg, Mississippi. Gene and Craig were very close with all the original band members of Skynyrd. Most of the original members either died in the crash or have passed away since. Only two original members are left. Guitar player Gary Rossington and drummer Artimus Pyle of the original band remain alive. 

On May 4th of this year, Lakeland citizen Alfred Sapp, an acquaintance of a friend of Gene Odom, was on his way to work when he suffered a near fatal heart attack. First responder Lakeland Police Officer Wakesha Phidd was one of the first responders to the scene. It was determined that if not for life saving CPR given to Mr. Sapp by the officer, he would have died. Gene Odom, childhood friend of the Skynyrd band founder Ronnie VanZant, hearing of this suggested we need to recognize this fine officer. He said, “I know what it means to be saved!” Thus, The Return of the Survivors Tribute to Wakesha Phidd was created. 

General Admission $37

VIP Tickets - $47

The Celebration will begin with an award presentation to officer Wakesha Phidd and all those responsible for the lifesaving efforts made for Mr. Sapp. 

The Celebration will also include Craig Reed, head Roadie, to bring his over 40-year-old never-before-seen home movies of the original Lynyrd Skynyrd for the public to view. Craig said, “Heck, even the original band members haven’t seen this footage!” Craig Reed has traveled the world with the original Lynyrd Skynyrd on many tours. He tuned their instruments and managed the band in the early years until the plane he was on with the band crashed in the pine forest of Mississippi. The song What’s Your Name Little Girl was written By Ronnie VanZant about the famous roadie. He has also worked for and toured with other bands such as Foreigner, Journey and the Marshall Tucker Band. 

Next, an onstage interview with Gene Odom and Craig Reed will follow including a question and answer session with the audience. Bobby Sanders, an awesome flat top singer guitar player, will warm up Nuthin Fancy with a great acoustic session.. There will be a two-hour performance by the very well-known and talented Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band Nuthin Fancy. 

Come attend this great celebration at the Polk Theater. There will be a meet-and-greet autograph session with the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane crash survivors and possible first responders to the devastating crash. Event T-shirts will be for sale along with posters and stickers of the event. V.I.P. passes will be on lanyards just like they do at all big named concerts for the premium seats that make for great souvenirs.