Bassist Leon Wilkeson left the band during the album's early recording sessions after playing on only two tracks. Strawberry Alarm Clock guitarist Ed King was asked to fill in for Wilkeson on bass during the remaining sessions, as Wilkeson already wrote many of the bass parts. This left Skynyrd with only six official members at the time of the album's release. Not long after, King remained with the band, and was made a member, so that they could replicate the triple-guitar lead during live performances. Wilkeson returned to the band towards the end of the recording sessions, having written "Simple Man". The album was certified gold on December 18, 1974, platinum and double platinum on July 21, 1987, by the RIAA. The album also peaked at 27 in the Billboard 200 in 1975.
The album was re-released in 2001 as an expanded version with bonus tracks, including demos of many of the songs on the album. Sales through 2014 were an estimated 2 million units internationally.
The cover photograph was taken on Main Street in Jonesboro, Georgia and shows from left to right Leon Wilkeson, Billy Powell (seated), Ronnie Van Zant, Gary Rossington (seated), Bob Burns, Allen Collins and Ed King.
Leon Wilkeson – bass for the group up until the album was cut, rejoined shortly thereafter
Al Kooper (Roosevelt Gook) – bass, Mellotron and back-up harmony on "Tuesday's Gone", mandolin & bass drum on "Mississippi Kid", organ on "Simple Man", "Poison Whiskey" and "Free Bird", Mellotron on "Free Bird"