Lynyrd Skynyrd Shares Their Reason For Still Moving Forward

Lynyrd Skynyrd Shares Their Reason For Still Moving Forward | Society Of Rock Videos

via Lynyrd Skynyrd / Youtube

After the death of guitarist Gary Rossington on March 5, the news of Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s final founding member passing away left fans and the music community in mourning. Speculations were rife about the future of the iconic Southern rock band, and many wondered if Lynyrd Skynyrd would continue without any original members.

However, just over a week later, the band surprised everyone by taking the stage again. While it was unclear what their long-term plans were, the band remained silent, leaving fans anxious for updates. Finally, in early April, a band statement was released, putting an end to the speculation.

The band’s official statement confirmed that Lynyrd Skynyrd would continue to perform live after engaging in discussions with the family of their departed bandmates. The statement released in April emphasized their belief that continuing to play live and keeping the music alive was in the best interest of the fans and everyone involved.

Beyond Bandmates

Vocalist Johnny Van Zant fondly described Rossington as not just his brother, bandmate, and friend, but also someone who loved him as much as he loved Rossington. Their bond was strong, and they would do anything for each other. Through laughter, fights, tears, and reconciliations, they shared the stage for 36 years.

Rossington, along with Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, and Medlocke, was one of the founding members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, leaving behind a musical legacy that continued with three generations of fans.

The Aftermath

Remaining guitarist Rickey Medlocke, who has been associated with Lynyrd Skynyrd since the early ’70s, shared in an exclusive interview the range of emotions the band has experienced since Rossington’s passing.

He also revealed the journey that led to their decision to announce a farewell tour in 2018. Despite the loss, Lynyrd Skynyrd has chosen to carry on with their Sharp Dressed Simple Man tour alongside ZZ Top this summer, a decision made with careful consideration.

Off-Stage Story

The following story was told by Medlocke, himself. “Firstly, we extend our condolences on Gary’s passing. He was one of the three founding members of the band, along with Ronnie Van Zant and Allen Collins. In recent years, Gary had been facing numerous physical health issues, and despite his best efforts to hang in there and travel with us, it eventually took a toll on him.

In hindsight, when bands announce farewell tours, it’s often met with skepticism about their actual longevity. However, in our case, Gary had expressed his desire to reduce the number of shows we were doing each year since he wanted to spend time with his family, as did Johnny Van Zant, who was also facing similar considerations with his own family.

The deciding factor in our decision was Gary’s worsening heart condition, which led him to undergo a lot of bypass surgery in 2003. Over time, his heart became weaker, and we had planned to do a farewell tour in 2020, with the intention of reducing heavy touring after that.

We had plans to continue recording and doing select residencies and specialty gigs, but the intense touring schedule would be scaled back. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our plans, as it did for everyone else. We were only able to do the first two shows of our planned 65-show tour in 2020 before the country shuts down.

We were off the road for 15 months, which was difficult for the band, crew, and everyone involved. As things started to open up in 2021, we took on gigs for the summer, with Gary’s blessing, and realized it was time to find a replacement for him so we could fulfill our commitments to the fans.

We felt a deep sense of obligation to our fans, who have supported us for generations. Gary came up with the idea for the “Big Wheels Keep on Turnin'” tour, and we made sure to involve him in the decision-making process, calling him about the setlist and other details.

We even called him after shows, sometimes to his annoyance if he was already asleep, but that’s just how we were as brothers. Unfortunately, despite our efforts, Gary passed away on March 5th, 2023.

We had Damon Johnson, known for his work with Thin Lizzy and Alice Cooper, fills in for Gary on guitar while he was unable to join us on the road. Damon had meaningful moments with Gary during his time with us, including a final performance at the Ryman in Nashville that Gary insisted Damon be part of.

It hasn’t been easy dealing with Gary’s passing, as he was someone we had known and been with for a long time. It’s a raw wound in our hearts that hasn’t healed yet. Moving forward, we are committed to continuing the music with the blessings of Dale Rossington and the estates and all those involved.

The music has been iconic, and despite Gary’s passing, it’s clear that his legacy lives on, as evidenced by the recent recognition we received from Spotify for ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ reaching one billion streams. It’s a proud accomplishment but also a heavy reminder of the great loss we feel as we bid farewell to Gary.”

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