Free Bird was originally recorded on 16-track analog tape at Studio One in Doraville, GA.
The band was initially concerned when producer and engineers Al Kooper and Bob Langford layered the now legendary concurrent guitar solos on top of each other. This was in the days before Steve Gaines was added as the third guitarist, and the previous third-guitarist, Ed King, had mostly switched to bass. According to Langford:
"Anyway, when we were cutting the song, we noticed that every time they played the guitar parts, they played them exactly the same way. So, we started telling them, 'Let's do the guitars again.' They were saying, 'How many times do we have to do this?' We didn't tell them we were stacking all those tracks. Al and I came in early the next day and I said, 'What do you think if we mix all these tracks down to a couple of tracks and then go for it?' So, we took all those guitar parts and just mixed and interwove them in twos, and threes, and fours. Then we erased all the original tracks."
"That night, when they came in and heard all those guitars on there, they went ballistic. They said, 'How can you think that sounds good?' And then they asked, 'How the hell are we going to play that live?' Al said, 'You're just going to have to work that out.' They said, 'Work that out? We can't work that out!' Finally we said, 'Look, we're here trying to make you a hit record, not do what you think is a hit. It's our job to make this record. It's your job to do whatever you need to do after that.' They were pissed – at least until the album went gold. By the time it was platinum, they were over it."
As Gary Rossington later described it, "The whole long jam was Allen Collins, himself. He was bad. He was super bad! He was bad-to-the-bone bad."
"When we put the solo together, we liked the sound of the two guitars, and I could've gone out and played it with him. But the way he was doin' it, he was just so hot! He just did it once and did it again and it was done."
* Note from KORD: Despite Rossington's first-hand knowledge of the proceedings, memories are not always accurate. Keen ears will hear three distinct guitar solos layered on top of each other. It's truly Fascinating how Allen Collins played such a frenzied and freewheeling solo nearly identically each time.
• Allen Collins' multiple, nearly identical, layered guitar solo takes
• Bleed from Collins' headphones at 4:50 before solos
• Eerie Mellotron on keyboard stem at 3:42