August 21, 2023
Lynyrd Skynyrd Itinerary
The roots of Southern Rock music run deep in Clay County. From rock band Molly Hatchet to the storied history of the Van Zant family and the legendary band Lynyrd Skynyrd, many people and places around our county have their own connections. As members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, many of the band’s beginnings happened right here in our communities.
Lynyrd Skynyrd is celebrating their 50th Anniversary, and it is only right to celebrate thier legacy in Clay County.
Here’s a look at some notable spots around Clay County with links to Lynyrd Skynyrd –
In the early days of Lynyrd Skynyrd, long before the release of their first album, band members would gather at an early rehearsal studio, lovingly named by the band as “Hell House” due to the small space and warm temperatures. Located on a farm near Green Cove Springs, the band wrote most of their first two albums on the property and rehearsed there for many years before outgrowing the space.
Adjacent to Peters Creek, Hell House was destroyed by a fire and the original property is now part of Edgewater Landing, a gated community. The property is visible by water. However, the Clay County Archives has a piece of the original slab foundation on display in Green Cove Springs.
Check out their newly release Hell House Whiskey which celebrates the cabin of their roots.
Experienced boaters can explore the nearby waterways of Black Creek and the adjacent Peters Creek, both known to be popular spots for Ronnie Van Zant and bandmembers to fish and enjoy the outdoors. Interested in renting a boat during your time in the area? Contact BoatFloridaRentals.com located in Fleming Island.
Located off of College Drive in Middleburg, Clay County’s Brickyard Road is historic for a few different reasons – the most notable being it is known to be Ronnie Van Zant’s last place of residence. Along with his family, he lived here at the time of the tragic plane crash in 1977.
Released as a single in 1990, Johnny Van Zant wrote the song, “Brickyard Road” as a tribute to his brother, remembering the memories they made along this street. This street was the last place he saw his brother alive and the music video for this song was filmed on Brickyard Road.
While you are in the area, stop by YUM – A Southern Market for a cupcake or slice of pie. With outdoor seating available, take a break and enjoy the scenery.
Ronnie Van Zant Memorial Park
Enjoy the outdoors at the Ronnie Van Zant Memorial Park, located at 2760 Sandridge Road in the Lake Asbury area of Clay County. The Freebird Foundation and family members donated the land for this 90-acre park featuring a fishing pond and pier, a frisbee golf course, covered picnic areas, a playground, tennis and volleyball courts and a soccer field.
Since its official opening in 1996, the park has also added a nature walk through wooded areas and wetlands along with baseball fields making this a great place to enjoy time with family and explore Clay County’s scenic areas.
Whitey’s Fish Camp Restaurant
Known to be Ronnie Van Zant’s favorite restaurant, Whitey’s Fish Camp, open since 1963, is a local favorite in Clay County with great views along Swimming Pen Creek. Located on County Road 220, stop in for a cocktail or a bite to eat with dishes ranging from gator tail (yes, it tastes like chicken), fried shrimp and catfish to fish tacos and a variety of seafood platters. Whitey’s bait and tackle shop is a popular favorite and also welcomes diners arriving by boat and those using their private boat launch area too.
Jacksonville Memorial Gardens Cemetery
As the original resting place for Ronnie Van Zant and band members Cassie and Steve Gaines, Jacksonville Memorial Gardens Cemetery, on Blanding Blvd. near the Orange Park Mall, now serves as a memorial to those band members that left us in 1977.
In June 2000, the graves were vandalized and the remains were moved to an undisclosed location in Jacksonville. Today, visitors can still visit the old graves and pause for a moment of silence on an adjacent bench with an inscribed poem by musician Charlie Daniels donated as a tribute to his musical friends.
No matter what part of Lynyrd Skynyrd history you decide to explore during your time in Clay County, we hope you enjoy learning about this legendary band – in our small towns filled with big passions.