Gimme Three Steps

Album: Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd (1973)
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This song is based on a true story. As Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington tells it, lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, who was about 18 at the time, used a fake ID to get in a bar while his younger bandmates Rossington and Allen Collins waited for him in a truck. Van Zant danced with a girl named Linda, whose boyfriend, who was not too happy about it, came up to Ronnie and reached for something in his boot. Figuring he was going for a gun, Van Zant told him: "If you're going to shoot me it's going to be in the ass or the elbows... just gimme a few steps and I'll be gone." He ran to the truck, and he, Rossington, and Collins wrote this song that night.
  • According to the Freebird Foundation, which is run by Van Zant's widow Judy Van Zant Jenness, the events of the song took place at a bar called The Little Brown Jug, which was located on Edison Avenue in Jacksonville, Florida, where the band is from. Thus the lyrics, "I was cuttin' the rug, down a a place called The Jug," which is where Ronnie ran into an angry local man with a gun.
  • The pace of the chorus is fast, to signify Van Zant running away from the guy he thought was going to shoot him.
  • This made the cut for Skynyrd's first album. Their producer, Al Kooper, had them play all their original songs, and out of the 14 they had, picked nine to record for the album.
  • This was one of the few songs Skynyrd released as a single. It was their first major-label release, and it didn't chart.
  • The band's name was a mocking tribute to Leonard Skinner, a physical-education teacher at Robert E. Lee High School, who was notorious for strictly enforcing the school's policy against boys having long hair. Despite their high school acrimony, the band developed a friendlier relationship with Skinner in later years, and invited him to introduce them at a concert in the Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum.

    Interviewed by the Florida Times Union in January 2009, Skinner said he was just following the rules about hair length. It bothered him that the legend had grown that he was particularly tough on the band members. In fact, he didn't even remember them when they were in high school. He said, "It was against the school rules. I don't particularly like long hair on men, but again, it wasn't my rule."

    Though he hasn't been shy of the attention he received because of his name, Skinner never really warmed up to the group's music. "No," he said when asked if he liked their tunes. "I don't. I don't like rock 'n' roll music."

    On September 20, 2010, Skinner died at a nursing home in Jacksonville, at age 77 after suffering from Alzheimer's disease for several years.
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 38

  • Luke from UsaBy the way, Dave is mistaken. The Pastime is without a doubt the bar that still exists at 5301 Lenox Ave.
  • Luke from UsaYes... The Still is the one I remember. I lived around the Westside area for 5 years between 1976 and 1984.

    Ed King - Rest in Peace
  • Vickie from Jacksonville, Florida The Lil' Brown Jug was on Edison Ave right off Stockton St. My dad use to go there all the time, my mom met my step dad there.
    W.T. West Tavern located on Lenox Ave. is where I use to shoot pool at all the time mother in law was the bartender. Horace Martin was her boss.
    The Still was on San Juan, the last time I was in there it had changed to the SOS. These three places I’m positive about. I made a killing at West Tavern shooting pool. I was too young to drink being only 17 but not too young to know how to handle a cue stick.
  • Mark from TexasLove the rhythm and the guitar playing - but as I got older and joined the military I always looked forward to the day I could punch this moron in the mouth for leaving a helpless woman to face the music alone. Unfortunately, he died before I got to demonstrate why cowardice is a bad idea.
    I thought it was just hyperbole (and a poor attitude) but it crystallized into intent when I found this jerk had actually really done this.
    This remark is bound to be unpopular, but we don't expect bravery from our rock legends - just good music.
  • Perry from PortsmouthThis song is very reminiscent of Jay & The American's "Come a Little bit Closer", at least lyrically. I think Skynyrd even refers to it in the line "wait a minute mister, I didn't even kiss her" as the main subject in the above song admits "I couldn't resist one little kiss so inviting"....perhaps suggesting that he wasn't as guilty as the singer of "Come a Little Bit Closer"
  • Dave from WestjaxOk, I just went an stood on the spot of the old "West Tavern/ Past time/ Judy's Pub" pictured on the LS website, it is in fact still demolished :) It is on the corner of Turknett road and Blanding blvd, jacksonville,Fla. The site is for sale, 3.6 acres of which only the tiny pub itself was removed, the rest hasn't been touched since Ronnie last stepped down there, it's jungle. But it's a time capsule, they bulldozed a lot of old pub into the jungle. I got a wood board that had "ICE" painted in blue letters and thought that was cool until I was driving home with termites on my arm. Should have got one of the 10,000 beer bottles. Haha.
  • Dave from WestjaxSonny I didn't see your comment, you are correct. Here is the link again. Note it is a separate white cinderblock bldg. This West tavern/Pastime/Judy's pub was located about 1/2 miles south of Blanding and 118th street, on the West side of blanding. It sat right on blanding blvd, and had parking for about six cars. That area fits in exactly with the area Ronnie was living at in early and mid 20's. Trust the wife, she knows the stories. http://www.lynyrdskynyrdhistory.com/less4.html
  • Dave from WestjaxI'll take Gary and Judy's word for it, it wasn't the Little Brown Jug. It wasn't down near the springs. If you go to the LS website and the history Judy put together it will show what she says is the "past time". Lo and Behold it looks nothing like any "past time' on Edison or Lenox. Keep in mind where Ronnie grew up, Lakeshore area, with a gradual migration SOUTH. He then lived in Riverside, then lived in the Colonial apts off blanding blvd, he lived in Confederate point apts further down blanding. Nobody would be going back Northwest to Edison ave dives to hang out in the 70's. He was hanging around the "still" on San Juan ave (again off blanding blvd), and the TRUE PAST TIME which is pictured on the LS website. That pictured past time as shown was actually a one room white cinderblock separate building on a corner street off blanding blvd, just South of Blanding blvd and 118th st. It was called many names, and during RSV it was called "the Past time." It later became "Judy's pub" for a decade, then was closed and sat abandoned for another decade or more. It was torn down at least 5-7 years ago and I believe it is still a vacant lot. That's my two cents from a long time Westsider, look at the picture on the website, because it doesn't exist any longer.
  • Sonny from Campbell, CaW.T. West Tavern is the former name of The Pastime Tavern and this is the location where the incident occurred. The Jug was used in the song simply to rhyme with rug and other than where they would occassionally buy booze, it nothing to do with Ronnie's close call.Also, the words gimme three steps were never spoken according to Gary Rossington. The Little Brown Jug is now the site of Hilti Manufacturing and no longer a bar. For the story straight from the guy that was there, go here: http://www.lynyrdskynyrdhistory.com/less4.html
  • Ty from Saskatoon, SkGood classic tune. Those of you who remember the programme Northern Esposure may also remember this tune playing on the jukebox inside the Brick. I don't recall the episode.
  • Just A Friend from Jacksonville, FlThe possibility of ever knowing the exact meaning or inferences in this song is slim...asking the band is not really a viable option, since Rossington is the only original band member, and he and Ronnie were not always on the best of terms...educated guesses are probably as close as anyone will ever get. One thing is certain, Ronnie was a gifted musician!
  • Dawn from Jacksonville, FlYes, this was a true story. My uncle was Allen Collins. Linda was her name. However, my great-grandmother used to sing at Grand Ole Opry when she was younger. Her stage name was Linda Lou, and it was a nod to her as well.

    Lettie Mae Wren was her "real" name for those wondering.
  • Valentin from Beijing, ChinaWas I Right Or Wrong from "Skynyrd's first and last" is probably based on this one, both have similar licks.
  • Linda from Jacksonville, FlI agree with Wayne and Jason. Most of the end lines in Gimme Three Steps were probably chosen for their rhyming effect. I knew Ronnie pretty well back then. The use of the name Linda Lou puzzled me, so in 2003, I went back to Jax and tried to retrace some of our steps. I'm almost certain our last date began at 2517 Edison Ave. It was the summer of 1966. My parents sent me to a boarding school in Georgia earlier that year. Now, he was dating Nadine. When I came home for summer vacation, my older brother told me where Ronnie was singing. At the time, the place was for teenagers. I remember standing in line. There was an old car that was going to be given away some time that summer. It was parked on a trailer in front of the building. I remember glass windows, the inset door, and the delivery entrance on the right side of the building. There was rubber or large strips of plastic hanging in the door. We walked through the strips to cool off outside. Although my brother brought me to the dance, Ronnie brought me home. He and Nadine were fighting and it was the first time we met since my parents sent me to Georgia. He brought me home after 2:00 PM. My brother told him he would leave the door unlocked for me. That night, Ronnie gave me his Saint Christopher medal... "So you'll be safe driving to Louisiana," he said. The next day we moved away from Jacksonville, and I never saw him again. I received one letter, then, the news that he was dead.
  • Sara from Kenosha, United Kingdomchenel , i know exactly how you feeli, im 15, and im way to late to listen to all the people i listen too are done living or done singing. sadness. but great song. I LOVE IT.
  • Dna from Fort White, FlThese are the real facts, Johnny Van Zant, the lead singer of Lynard Skynard, and his brother, Donnie Van Zant, the lead singer of 38 Special, have local ties to the area of Highsprings & Ichetucknee Springs. In fact, the idea for one of Lynard Skynard's top hits, "Give Me Three Steps," came during a visit to a bar near Ichetucknee Springs called the Jug on hwy 27, said Bruce Borders, a friend of the family all others ideas are BS. Ask the band.
  • John Paul from Jacksonville, Flthe jug is off edgewood ave my friends. it is now called "tradewinds."
  • Wayne from Hudson, FlAll Three Bars in (JAX) Jacksonville Florida.

    The Little Brown Jug: At 2517 Edison Ave., it inspired the ''cuttin' the rug'' line in Gimme Three Steps, but probably just because ''jug'' rhymed with ''rug.''

    The West Tavern: At 5301 Lenox Ave., it's now called the Pastime (''cold beer, pool''). This is where the Gimme Three Steps scuffle really happened.

    The Still: At 4506 San Juan Ave., it's now the SOS Lounge. It's where some of the band's earliest performances were. Later bought by Leonard Skinner the Gym Teacher and renamed after himself.

  • John from Welch, WvIt was the very first song I heard by skynyrd the rest is history.
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InI forgot to mention that the live version found on "One More From The Road" features Ronny Zant saying after the part "I said excuuuuuse me!" "Don't wanna fight over this c%@t!"
    Really funny bit of profanity, that.
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InThe thing I have long loved about Skynyrd is the fact that Ronny's words are ALWAYS clear, even with three guitars and a bass swirling around at the same time.
    Very funny song with a nice story about someone discarding bravery for wisdom.
    Also a nice fast rhythm.
  • Jared from Owensboro, KyAs Ronnie was walkin out of the jug, he told the guy with the gun that if he was gonna shoot, he would have to shoot him in the ass.
  • Austin from Jacksonville, Fl"The Jug" is now called "Pastime" and is located at 5301 Lenox Avenue in Jacksonville, FL. It is actually closer to I-10 and Cassatt Avenue rather than Hwy 17.
  • Tom-gator from Miami, FlIs the bar really off of Hwy 17? Still in existence? Having resided in Jax from 1993-2001, I was told The Lil Brown Jug was just north of I-10 off the Stockton St. exit a bit west of downtown but the Kentucky story...that was a doozy! Who in Jax can help us on this one?
  • Jason from Jacksonville, FlIn addition, the gun used was a 38 special, not a 44 magnum. I don't know why 44 was used in the song. Perhaps it was because it rhymed with "door", "floor", etc. used in the lyrics and possibly had more impact as a weapon. Either way, it was a 38.
  • Jason from Jacksonville, FlMy dad was the jealous boyfriend in this song. He died in 2003. The true story is the girl's name was not Linda Lu. Her name was Linda but her last name was not Lu. Linda was his girlfriend at the time. My dad was known for being a jealous person and someone was dancing with his girlfriend. He did not reach for his boot. He saw them, then went out to his car, got the gun, and came back in with it. The guy stopped dancing with Linda and ran out of the bar. My dad went outside too and left before authorities showed up. Yes it happened in Jacksonville. It happened in a small bar off of Roosevelt Blvd. Highway 17. I have no idea where Kentucky even came in to this story.
  • Dylan from Branson, Mothis is one of there best songs to me. this is a true story i heard it on the bob and tom show on U.S 97
  • Chenel from Salamanca, NyRonnie is truly one of a kind. It's too bad I was born too late. I would've loved to see all the great legends in concert. Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, you know and the list goes on and on and on.
  • Tony from Jacksonville, FlI worked at a car rental place in jacksonville, and rented a car to Leonard Skinner. I even made a copy of his drivers license! This was in 2003,
    and he told he was proud that they names the band after him, and that the new version of the band was flying him to a concert somewhere up north later that year.d
  • Norbert from Oaklahomacity, OrThis an epic skynyrd tune
  • Brandon from Peoria, IlI like this song alot because it actually depicts the "flight" reaction of a "fight or flight" situation. Most modern songs that have a simmilar situation tend to depict the other side of the coin. Some rapper beating the hell out of someone that wanted him to fight to make him look gangsta. Not Skynyrd. They showed that, "ya know...sometimes you just gotta run away." Great Song.
  • Jeanette from Mcgrady, NcI can't help but laugh when I hear this song, I can just see it all happening in my head as Ronnie sings. He was so wonderful at writing songs from his and his bandmates experiences, and he never wrote a thing down.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaI agree with fred and JD. Thank God this got on the album, It was the first skynyrd song I got into. Really funny. True, too.
  • Anonymous from Na, MtIt's a great and catchy song, one of my favorite Lynyrd Skynyrd Songs to listen too.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScI agree donna. I saw them last summer and they were great. I like the live version of "Gimme 3 Steps".
  • Charlie from Thomaston, Ctdonna, unless you saw them like in 1975, then all you saw at your concert was a bunch of replacement members, i love the real lynyrd skynyrd, but there decendents trying to keep the band going, not good.
  • Donna from Hicksville, Nythey are great saw them in concert
  • Jd from Jax, FlThe Brown Jug is located on Hwy. 17 in the Jacksonville, Florida neighborhood where many of the band members grew up. In fact nearby is R.E. Lee High School where they attended.
    Local stories have it that the name "Lynyrd Skynyrd" actually was derived from one of their High School teachers at R.E. Lee....Leonard Skinner.
see more comments

The End Of The Rock EraSong Writing

There are no more rock stars - the last one died in 1994.

Album Cover InspirationsSong Writing

Some album art was at least "inspired" by others. A look at some very similar covers.

Mac Powell of Third DaySongwriter Interviews

The Third Day frontman talks about some of the classic songs he wrote with the band, and what changed for his solo country album.

Steely DanFact or Fiction

Did they really trade their guitarist to The Doobie Brothers? Are they named after something naughty? And what's up with the band name?

Loudon Wainwright IIISongwriter Interviews

"Dead Skunk" became a stinker for Loudon when he felt pressure to make another hit - his latest songs deal with mortality, his son Rufus, and picking up poop.

Rebecca St. JamesSongwriter Interviews

This Australian Christian music star found herself a California surfer guy, giving new meaning to her song "Wait For Me."