Speaking exclusively to Rock Candy Mag as part of an in-depth 18-page Lynyrd Skynyrd story, lead vocalist Johnny Van Zant explains exactly how and why the band has decided to continue after the untimely death of founding member and guitarist Gary Rossington back in March.
“Gary’s wife really sealed the deal,” Johnny outlined to Rock Candy Mag editor Howard Johnson. “Dale has been singing backing vocals with Skynyrd for years and years, ever since the Tribute Tour that brought the band back together in 1987. And when Gary died, Dale said to me, ‘This is what Gary did and he would want you guys to carry on.’ So now more than ever I want to continue. Gary was out there carrying the legacy for the original guys – for Ronnie and Allen, for Billy and Leon – for so many years out of respect for what they did. Now I think he deserves the same kind of respect from us.”
With Skynyrd currently hitting the road for shows with ZZ Top, guitarist Rickey Medlocke is also quick to explain his desire to keep the band’s legacy alive.
“When Gary passed it broke my heart,” says Medlocke. “It really did. It’s only now that I’ve got to the point where I can talk about it and think about the good old days and all the good times we had together. So it’s very emotional for me to get up on stage and play, and to look across and not see Gary doing his thing. But I believe it’s important to keep Skynyrd’s music alive and not let it just fade away. It’s important for all of us to honour the memories of all the other guys who went before us in this band. I’m just very proud and very honoured to be doing that.”
Van Zant also says that live performance has always been at the very core of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s work.
“The records Skynyrd made were great, but Gary felt that in truth Skynyrd had always been about the live performance,” he explains. “Now we’re no young turkeys, no spring chickens. But what I do know is that everyone still loves getting out there and playing the music. We feel like a family when we’re out there together, and we all want to go out there again and really give Gary his due.”
You can read our 18-page Lynyrd Skynyrd special, together with many other fascinating stories about RATT, Jethro Tull, Faster Pussycat, and Ronnie Montrose in issue 39 of Rock Candy Mag. For more details visit www.rockcandymag.com.