8 Reasons Why Johnny Van Zant Is The Fearless Leader Southern Rock Needs
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Celebrating his 59th birthday on February 27th, Johnny Van Zant is by far one of Southern rock’s most legendary and intriguing figures. Younger brother to the late Ronnie Van Zant and 38 Special’s Donnie Van Zant, what began as road trips with proud papa Lacy and his brothers to the tune of Merle Haggard and Hank Williams turned into a successful solo career and later, fame beyond his wildest dreams as the lead singer for Lynyrd Skynyrd following brother Ronnie’s death in 1977.
Through it all – the good and the bad – he’s never lost his sense of humor, humility, or sight of where he came from. In honor of his 59 trips around the sun, here are 8 things we love about Lynyrd Skynyrd’s fearless leader, Mr. Johnny Van Zant!
1. He’s Versatile
Long before his days in Lynyrd Skynyrd, Johnny Van Zant enjoyed a wildly successful solo career with his band, The Johnny Van Zant Band, formerly known as The Austin Nickels Band. Versatility is key: while his music contained shades of the Southern rock he grew up with, Johnny’s proved that he’s not afraid to change, adapt, and pull from different influences to create music that’s uniquely his. Plus, it rocks!
2. He’s Got Incredible Taste In Music
It’s always great when you find out your favorite singer has amazing taste in music. Some of the artists that Johnny’s into include literally everything from George Jones and Tammy Wynette, to Led Zeppelin and AC/DC – and if you listen closely, you can hear all of these influences in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s music!
3. He Loves Working With Another Well-Loved Van Zant
Despite their busy schedules with 38 Special and Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Van Zant brothers still find time to reconnect for their country project Van Zant – or even just to hang out. Big brother Donnie says that the death of brother Ronnie inspired him to get closer to Johnny, and nearly 40 years later the two are as close as ever.
4. He’s Down To Earth – No Rockstar Ego Here, Folks!
Kanye West sure could learn a thing or two from Johnny about humility!
He genuinely loves his fans and when he’s not working or being the world’s best babysitter to his grandchildren, the Lynyrd Skynyrd singer can be found taking his kids to school, taking out the trash, and relaxing with a long, luxurious day spent fishing at his favorite spot.
5. He’s Spent Over 30 Years In Lynyrd Skynyrd – And Has No Plans Of Stopping Any Time Soon
With a legacy that spans 3 generations, Lynyrd Skynyrd isn’t going anywhere any time soon – and neither is Johnny, if he’s got anything to say about it.
“Who knows how long we’re going to be able to do this and while we’re doing it, we’re going to have as much fun as we can and hopefully our fans stick with us and we’ll have many, many more years doing this.”
We’ll be here, Johnny – we’ll be here.
6. He Knows What REALLY Matters
Johnny Van Zant didn’t grow up rich in terms of material wealth – he grew up rich in family. At the end of the day, we can always count on our favorite Jacksonville native to remember his roots and with them, the people who helped make him who he is.
7. He’s Got Great Advice For The Next Generation Of Bands
“So many people are great singers, great players and never make it, so have that plan B, but follow your dreams and work hard at it. If you believe in yourself, give it a time period and see what you can come up with.”
8. He Learned From The Very Best, And ALWAYS Does The Lynyrd Skynyrd Legacy Proud
Need we say more?