Lynyrd Skynyrd Give Merle Haggard’s “Honky Tonk Night Time Man” The Southern Rock Royal Treatment
(L) Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images, (R) Richard E. Aaron / WireImage / Getty Images
“Cause I’m A Honky Tonk Night Time Man…”
One year ago, the music world reeled over news of the death of country legend and pioneer of the outlaw country movement Merle Haggard, who passed away last year on his 79th birthday. His career spanned over 5 decades and inspired countless artists over the years, including late Lynyrd Skynyrd frontman Ronnie Van Zant who hailed Merle as one of his all time favorite artists.
Ronnie may have wound up a rocker, but he cut his teeth on Merle Haggard’s music – singing along to it on long road trips with dad Lacy Van Zant and younger brothers Donnie and Johnny, learning life lessons along the way as only The Hag himself knew how to teach them. It’s only fitting, then, that Ronnie would pay tribute to Merle in the form of a spirited cover of Merle’s 1974 hit “Honky Tonk Night Time Man,” featured on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 5th studio album Street Survivors.
Gary Rossington Talks Merle Haggard’s Influence
“Ronnie’s favorite guy was Merle Haggard, and he just listened to that every day. I loved it. We still do, you know. I love Merle.”
Between Ronnie’s high energy vocal performance and calling out his bandmates one by one and the mini solos that allow everyone in Lynyrd Skynyrd – especially Steve Gaines on guitar and Billy Powell on keys – this cover of “Honky Tonk Night Time Man” is one that celebrates the best parts of Southern rock and classic outlaw country.
Here’s to two of the greatest men to ever grace a stage – we know Ronnie is having a great time in Heaven hanging out with his hero!