Lynyrd Skynyrd Bio

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Legendary rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd returns with a fiery slice of Southern style guitar rock heaven in Last of a Dyin’ Breed, their newest release on Roadrunner/Loud & Proud Records due August 21, 2012. This is the kind of record guaranteed to feed the needs of the multi-generational Skynyrd Nation, and continue the renewed vigor the band exhibited with their last album, 2009’s God & Guns.

For the passionate, longtime fans of the band, this is Skynyrd at the top of their game, complete with instantly memorable songs, more hooks than a tackle box, and a blistering three-guitar attack at full power. From the raging guitars of the title track and the pounding, funky homage to local talent in “Home Grown” to the mind-blowing “Honey Hole,” Lynyrd Skynyrd sound like young bucks having one hell of a good time, which, regarding the latter, founding member Gary Rossington says is very much the case.

“For me this is one of the happiest and most fun albums I’ve ever done,” says Rossington. “We didn’t have a lot of problems goin’ on; it was just fun goin’ to work every day.”

Having survived enough tragedy and just plain hard miles for 10 bands, Skynyrd is, remarkably at this stage of their career, on a roll. God & Guns debuted at #18 on the Billboard Top 200, giving the band their highest debut since 1977. Last Of A Dyin’ Breed re-ignites the in-studio alchemy the band found with Guns producer Bob Marlette, and the sound is traditional Skynyrd blended to perfection with the edge of immediacy. In short, it’s rock ‘n roll for the times.

Led by core members Gary Rossington (guitar), Johnny Van Zant (vocals) and Rickey Medlock (guitar), Skynyrd has recorded an album that continues to build on the legacy that began over 35 years ago in Jacksonville, Florida. Joining them in the studio and on the road are new bassist Johnny Colt (Black Crowes, Train) guitarist Mark “Sparky” Matejka (a “Nashville cat, just a pickin’ fool,” according to Rossington), and keyboardist Peter Keys, who replaced Powell on the God & Guns tour.

In a tragic tale oft-told, the Skynyrd story could have ended in a Mississippi swamp with the 1977 plane crash that killed three band members, including Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines. Since then, the band has lost vital players in Billy Powell, Ean Evans, Allen Collins, Leon Wilkeson and Hughie Thomasson, yet here they are again with a hard-rocking, stirring album that can sit proudly alongside any recording that bears the Skynyrd name. The breed may be nearing extinction but Skynyrd is very much alive and ready to throw down.

Van Zant, now in his 25th year standing where his brother once stood agrees with Rossington about the making of Breed. “We worked with Bob Marlette again who’s a great guy we just love as a producer,” he says. “During the recording of the last album we were going through Billy and Ean passing away, and with this album we were able to laugh and joke a lot.”

Medlock says that after the hard touring behind God & Guns he and the other primary writers Van Zant and Rossington took their time writing the songs. But the actual recording came together quickly, aided by the band’s in-studio chemistry. “This time what we wanted to do was go back to doin’ stuff old school,” he says. “A lot of the album was done with all of us in the recording studio, playing all at one time, the way we used to do it when we’d go into the studio to make records.”

With a catalog of over 60 albums, sales beyond 30 million worldwide and their beloved classic American rock anthem “Sweet Home Alabama” having sold over two million ringtones, Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Lynyrd Skynyrd remains a cultural icon that appeals to multiple generations. But far from resting on their laurels, any illusions that this may be a band at anything less than the height of its powers are quickly lost with the distorted fury of the fiery guitar licks that open the album’s title track and further put to rest with the gritty triumphs that follow.

They could easily continue cranking out old songs to rapturous audiences around the world but the fact is they’ve got plenty left to say musically, personally and as social commentary. “Every once in a while the record label will ask us if we want to put a new album out and we always say yes, because, although we love playing all the classic stuff, it’s fun to do new stuff too,” says Rossington, “for our own heads, our own peace of mind.”

Lynyrd Skynyrd is a band of today, carrying a steely mantle forged in the sweaty confines of the Hell House in Jacksonville decades earlier. And this is a band album, to be even more specific, a guitar driven band album. The triple guitar assault has never sounded more on point, with passionate musicality, expert harmonics and of course, plenty of attitude to burn. There’s a reason this is one of the most beloved bands of all time.

“We tried to go back to the old sound, doin’ it as a band, goin’ in all together and layin’ it down,” says Rossington. “On the last album, we leaned a little more country, back to our roots, but this time we just tried to be our old selves and write some Southern rock. Just good ol’ songs, get in and get out, say what they say, do a little bit of pickin’ and tap your feet.”

Those searching for traditional Skynyrd solos and fierce instrumental breaks will have plenty to love on Breed, with every song featuring ample fretwork from one, two or even all three guitarists. “We love to do the harmonies and stuff with lead guitars,” says Medlock. “That’s a Skynyrd staple, and we embellished on it quite a bit this time around. We wanted to make a guitar driven record and have the vocals sit really good in the saddle there with all the guitars, just have it more rockin’ and a lot more powerful.”

Mission accomplished, with plenty of fireworks and rock-solid rhythms from all players. “Sparky has just fit in great with Rickey and Gary, everybody knows their place now,” says Van Zant. “Sparky’s a strat guy, Gary’s a slide guy with the Les Paul sound and all those great fills, and Rickey’s the ‘all-around’ guy that does a little bit of everything.”

But the guitars and other instruments—Keys’ organ, for example, play a vital role in the soundscape. Van Zant’s vocal chops and way with a lyric have never been in finer form, breathing life into these songs and taking on some serious vocal challenges. “I quit smokin’ a year and a half ago, so that helped out quite a bit,” he says with a characteristic laugh. “Workin’ with Bob is great too. We cut the vocals right in the control room itself, which is real cool to me, because me and Bob go back and forth right there, so you’re not waiting for a button to be pushed. It’s just a real cool vibe. We’ve got a good thing goin’ here.”

They’ve got a good thing going in terms of material, too. The primary Skynyrd writing team of Rossington, Medlock and Van Zant worked with some of their favorite songwriters to pen the songs that populate Breed, including Tom Hambridge, Blair Daly, John 5, Donnie Van Zant, and Marlette, along with contributions from the bands Matejka, as well as Marlon Young, Audley Freed, Shaun Morgan from Seether, Cadillac Black’s Jaren Johnston, and label mates Black Stone Cherry’s Chris Robertson and Jon Lawhon.

The blend of writers from within and outside the band concocts a hard-hitting cadre of songs that fit perfectly into the Skynyrd canon. These songs are of the 100-proof variety. “We like bringing in outside influences and I love feeding off other people,” says Van Zant. “I’ve had people ask me, ‘how could Gary create another ‘Free Bird?’ We don’t even try that. Those are legendary songs. We just write what we write. It’s more about us just hangin’ out and being together and enjoying life and writin’ songs. My theory is like Ricky Nelson’s, ‘you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.’ If you’re happy with it at the end of the day, so be it.”

Not as overtly political as its predecessor God & Guns, Breed focuses more on the struggles of the working class, though the band make their thoughts on the direction of this country crystal clear on songs like the reverb-drenched “Poor Man’s Dream” and the blue-collar powerhouse “One Day at a Time.” “When we go in to record, we don’t go in with one certain mindset,” says Medlock. “We just go in and write about stuff we believe in, our experiences.”

The band is tuned in to the tough times many Americans are going through, and they sing songs that might well help on that journey, or at least help let off some steam. “Skynyrd really thinks about how people are struggling and what’s goin’ on out here,” says Medlock. “We see it a lot, because we’re a working man and working woman’s band. We’ve got three generations under our belts, we know people have a tough time out there, and we share in that.”

Gary Rossington won’t typically volunteer for political talk but he is an astute observer, and what he sees sticks in his craw. “I don’t like to talk politics,” he admits “I just don’t trust a lot of politicians. I think the country’s way off track, but we’ll get it back on, it’s too good of a thing to lose. We travel all around the country, there’s too many good people and good Americans who all want the same thing, just to get back on track the way we used to be.”

Like it or not, with a title like God & Guns, the previous album was bound to be a lightning rod out of the box. “I couldn’t believe how well God & Guns was accepted when it came out, in Europe, Australia, South America, here in the States; everybody we talked to, 99% of it was positive feedback,” says Medlock. “My whole thing was, we’ve got to go in the studio this time and step up, we’ve got to do at least what God & Guns did, or one better. And, in my opinion, I think we accomplished that. I’m looking forward to going out and playing some of this record live, along with our classic material, and taking it to the people and letting the people make their decision.”

Odds are, the “people,” specifically, the aforementioned Skynyrd Nation, will love Last of a Dyin’ Breed, and anyone who hasn’t checked into what this band has been up to for a while will likely be blown away. As for their part, Skynyrd will, per usual, indeed be taking their music to the people, as fans in Europe and North America will have a chance to catch the band on tour through the end of 2012 and beyond.

Lynyrd Skynyrd is:
Gary Rossington- Guitar
Johnny Van Zant- Vocals
Rickey Medlock- Guitar
Mark "Sparky" Matejka- Guitar
Michael Cartellone- Drums
Johnny Colt - Bass
Peter Keys - Keyboards
Dale Krantz Rossington- Honkettes Backing Vocals
Carol Chase- Honkettes Backing Vocals

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am.i.losin // July 16, 2011 6:31:27 PM UTC

@peach4peace: I hear ya about your feelings of the original lineup. I have friends that feel the same deep down and have never seen a show. I personally jumped on the first show I could see with the 87 reunion and cabin fever push, back when Allen was traveling with the band, but stuck in the wheel chair. Ed was great and the band rocked from the get go. I've seen just about everyone multiple times with Clapton being the one exception. My first show was the '79 world series of rock in Cleveland with the Scorpions, AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, Journey, Aerosmith and Nugent - back when the only rule was no bottles\no cans. Kegs, garbage cans full of jungle juice all legal. Since then I try to see as many shows as possible and Skynyrd is on my list as much as possible. I have had my elbows on the stage many times watching Rickey, Gary, Johnny, Leon, Billy, the girls, etc. and it is a rocking show. Just a ton of fun. My favorite line-up was when Hughie first started picking. The band was unbelievably tight and seeing/hearing Rickey play Mississippi Kid while standing in front of the stage was incredible. I recall Johnny saying he'd been waiting years to have that in their lineup. I hear ya though - as I've said, I have friends that still haven't gone. If you can get near front row, which is easy with the venues that often play in, it will be cool as hell to see Gary eye to eye. The only time I've even seen him slightly grin is to say Hi to a younger kid who are so often at Skynyrd shows these days... I agree that the songs aren't as complete as with Ronnnie and then Stevie writing songs, but it is a very cool time out, especially if you get close because you can connect with the band. Not the original Skynyrd jammin at the hell house, but a very very cool show for a good price. And for a plus, you don't have to hear a ton of political guff like going to see Springsteen. Go to the show, you will talk to dudes just like you, but they are still glad they stopped out for a good time. Lots of bikes line the entrance usually and cool times are had.

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bluesman-70 // July 14, 2011 3:37:24 PM UTC

This newer Lynryrd Skynryrd is still Skynryrd as far as I'm concerned.
If you listen closely to the lyrics for god and Guns you'd get what Johnny And the boys are saying yeah you might have your rights but so do we. When Do your rights supercede mine and would your views and your rights make this a better country ?
I'd like to think if Ronnie was still with us he'd have written this one as a arguement over what certain rights groups are pushing for.
You take away one group or indivual's rights what do you have ?
You take away one groups rights or a indivual's freedom and again what do you have?
Nothing anarchy chaos. The Trick as Ronnie would've said is to find a balance between the two.
Ronnie was for gun control and famously noted for his view Saturday night special is a great song and it illustrates one side of the arguement.
But it is far from the only side in this arguement.
Johnny and the boys are doing a superb job in keep Skynryrd's legacy alive and in keeping Ronnie's dream going.
If they didn't all we would have is old records that would eventually warp or old CD's that would break or i-pods.
Johnny and Gary Are Keeping the flame alive and the only way to do this is by keeping the name alive.
I saw them in Winnipeg on July 10th great show fantastic show and I've been listening to Skynryrd my whole life I've been waiting decades to see them live and now I have. I hope they come back as they give a great show. My Thanks to Johnny and the boys for knocking that one out of the park. You gave me the greatest concert I have ever seen.

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practice // July 14, 2011 9:14:48 AM UTC

Killer concert on the 4th at DTE. You guys are always welcome here in Michigan!

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mcg22 // July 11, 2011 8:02:50 PM UTC

hey i've been a fan of lynyrd skynyrd for a looooooong time..The way i look at it is this gary is keeping the music alive...Did you know rickey medlocke was the origional drummer along with bob burns in 1970 not artimus pyle..also steve gaines was not an origional member either he replaced ed king when ed got sick...they had leon,billy, gary in the band until leon passed away...so then came ean evans who passed in 2009..billy powell passed in 2009 tradgically...so is it gary's fault that they passed away?? NOPE.. If you go and see skynyrd in concert johnny looks alot like ronnie and sings alot like ronnie as far as i'm concerned the only person who can pull this off is johnny...And his father lacy and donnie had to talk him into it in 1987...But you asked a question on their playlist set well being that i just saw skynyrd they played god and guns,skynyrd nation, southern ways,that ain't my america,red white and blue...we ain't much different,workin,and preacher man!!!! then played the greats that we always hear....So before you open your mouth without even seeing this great band stop saying that they're not lynyrd skynyrd because today lynyrd skynyrd is gary rossington, rickey medlocke, johnny van zant,michael cartelone,sparky majetka, peter keys, robert kearns, carol chase, dale krantz rossington oh and by the way skynyrd nation i will be up front at the borgata on august 28th representing the real lynyrd skynyrd fans.....because this is skynyrd nation baby!!!!!!! mcg222

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peach4peace // July 11, 2011 4:58:11 PM UTC

@am.i.losin: I understand you're trying to be friendly and enjoy the music. That's all good!You've got a good attitude about it. I wish I could feel the same way friend. Some of us old time fans just feel differently about it since Gary is the only original member left. I'm trying to see your point, but for some reason I can't get past the feeling that (other than Gary), they are just trying to cash in on the legacy. Wish I could just “get over it” as you said.

I think for some of us, my point still stands. Here's my last analogy on the subject; Most folks wouldn't think it would be right for Paul McCartney and his new band to start marketing themselves as The Beatles. Should he make albums with his new band and call them Beatles albums? Should he go on tour and promote his concerts as Beatles concerts? He's the only Beatle in the band but by the logic that the “Skynyrd” band today is using, he should just call his new band The Beatles. Even if he had Julian Lennon in the band to sing the "John" parts and Dahni Harrison was in it to take over for George, it wouldn't be right. It's exactly the same thing.

Gary is the only member of the orginal Lynyrd Skynyrd. As I said before, I feel that Lynyrd Skynyrd truly ended on October 20, 1977. Without Ronnie (especially Ronnie), Ed King, Steve Gaines, Allen Collins, etc... it's just Gary with a bunch of others trying to cash in on the fame, legacy and music of the original band. Look at the setlist from one of their recent concerts and tell me they are trying to stand on their own merit. The vast majority of songs played at a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert today were written by the original band. I feel it's just another tribute band with an original member aboard and in my opinion they shouldn't call themselves Lynyrd Skynyrd. If you want to support that, it's your right to do so. I won't. If you are okay with all that, then that's great. For me though, the real Lynyrd Skynyrd lives on in their original albums and thank goodness we still have them to listen to. That's the real legacy of Lynyrd Skynyrd.

To end things on a positive note, all of us on this forum wouldn't be here unless we were Skynyrd fans and I think all of us can agree that the original Lynyrd Skynyrd was incredible! Good thing I'm living in the USA where we ALL have a right to voice our opinions openly and freely. Hope that all of you fans of the current lineup don't take my posts personally, it's nothing but my own opinion. Opinions aren't right or wrong, they are just opinions. I'm not attacking any of you personally or anything. By all means, if you enjoy the current band then more power to you! I just wish I could "get over it" and enjoy along with you good folks. Enjoy the Skynyrd tunes however you like enjoying them. For any of you newer or younger fans not aware of the history of the original band, the Lynyrd Skynyrd History Official Website (http://www.lynyrdskynyrdhistory.com/) is a great place to read and learn the actual history of the original band. Hope all of you continue enjoying the music! Peace

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am.i.losin // July 10, 2011 3:44:43 PM UTC

Get over it and let's rock. Thanks to the man above that Skynyrd still lives and is playing all over the great USA. Still the best show around.

- am.i.losin

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peach4peace // July 10, 2011 1:27:53 PM UTC

@420dixonline: Agreed! Thank goodness we are old enough to have been around when the original band was making music. Their legacy still remains in their original albums. I won't buy the new CD's of this band today calling themselves Lynyrd Skynyrd. I won't go to their concerts either. They are NOT Lynyrd Skynyrd!!!!! Instead, when I need a Skynyrd fix, I listen to the original band's albums. My favorite, "One More From The Road". That's where the real Lynyrd Skynyrd still comes alive! :)

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treblejunkie // July 09, 2011 4:28:22 PM UTC

@peach4peace: I forgot to tell you during my verbal diarrhoea rant ther but I agree with ya'll 101%. Leave well enough alone. I was the best fan or one of the best (I think you know what i'm feeling, just like you) of the ORIGINAL LYNYRD SKYNYRD. With their fan club and shit. It sounds to me like ... A SELL OUT. I mentioned David Lee Roth leaving Van Halen & replacing him with Sammy Hagar. Van Hager OR Sammy Halen? CANNOT BE VAN HALEN. Van Halen IS David Roth, Van Halen bros. & the bass player there(forgot his name). Couldn't be without those four specific people. If the new Skynyrd had called themselves Remainding Rebels or SOMETHING else, I'd have heard Gary plated guitar & Ricky Medlocke too, I'd think,"...hmmm old Skynyrd guys with a new band. Should be great, think I'll but it..." type thing. I agree. I think if they ever came to Toronto(shit whole big city but???) I'd go because I've heard them on you tube and they're damn good, BUT, they are NOT LYNYRD SKYNYRD. I'd go though just to say I saw Lynyrd Skynyrd. I'd be lying though. I don't know, show bizz. It's the way things go down I guess. Thanx 4 reading this because I think we're on the same mind..."track" when concerning Lynyrd Skynyrd anywaze. Take care peach4peace (Cool handle by the way) & fly like a Freebird. As far as your comment goes, You Got That Right. Gerry.

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treblejunkie // July 09, 2011 4:01:40 PM UTC

@peach4peace: I'm soooo freakin' glad to have ONE person agree about Lynyrd Skynyrd Now ain't even possible. Lynyrd Skynyrd consisted of, correct me if I'm wrong, Ronnie Van Zant (R.I.P.), Gary Rossington, Allen Collins, Leon Wilkinson,Ed King,Armtimus Pyle, Billy Powell, then later SteveGaines(R.I.P.), the Honkettes including Cassie Gaines(R.I.P.). After the tour for Street Survivors, where fuckhead forgot to get gas for the airplane, Lynyrd Skynyrd had been killed on the moment of the plane crash when especially Ronnie was killed. I AM THE GREATEST LYNYRD SKYNYRD FAN ON THIS PLANET & ALWAYS WILL BE. I worship these guys. I knew everything about all of them, that I was allowed to know anyway. There was no Wikpedia or internet back in the 1970's so information was much harder to get them days. I was prit near killed myself when the plane went down in the Carolina swamps. I was hit by a speeding car and broke ALL my bones. I was informed of the plane crash when in the hospital and just about died hearing what happened to my beloved Lynyrd Skynyrd. My parents, the doctors, nurses, everybody was wondering why I was WAY more upset about Lynyrd Skynyrd than I was about maybe dying myself!!! People couldn't believe it, they were like"...who is crying about ? Was this Lynyrd his friend?..." Now they have Lynyrd Skynyrd with all but ONE really left. Yes, Johnnie is Ronnie's kid brother, but he had the Johnny Van Zant Band. Go buy "No More Dirty Deals" by the Johnny VZ Band. Super grat record. Gary, an original and quite the axe grinder is the only original member left. When David Lee Roth left Van Halen, the band Van Halen was done. Then Sammy joined. Well then, its the Sammy Halen Band OR the Van Hager Band. Same when John Lennon left the Beatles. The Beatles were DONE. Axl Rose (or Billy Bailey) was alienated from EVERYBODY cuz he's such a twat kid, Gun's n' Roses were DONE. It should be, NOW, Bill Bailey & the Hissy Fits. Do ya get my "GIST" here? Leave well enough alone for Christ's sake. Someone or thing has died or broken, it's DONE. The new Skynyrd ain't Lynyrd Skynyrd anymore. Why not The Survivors or something different? Hey, their songs are great and the band is fantastic, but this is not my argument here. It has to do with Live and Let Die. Like you said, that they should call themselves Rossington/Van Zant band or something. The Remainders...SOMETHING, but not LYNYRD SKYNYRD. The members of the LYNYRD SKYNYRD are dead. The music, how great it is, will live FOREVER. Gun's n' Roses, now with the guitar lead has a Kentucky Fried Chicken thing on his head and he looks like Marilyn Manson's gay brother. What's with that. An insult to Gn'R. If ya'll wanna get mad and shit and send me messages, remember one FUCKIN' thing here, I WAS LISTENING TO "AM I LOSIN'", WHEN YOU WERE COMPETING IN YER DADDY'S SCROTUM FOR WHO'S THE BEST SWIMMER. You may have heard Lynyrd Skynyrd while in yer Mummy's belly whilst she was ironing the laundry or something. Don't tell me, cuz I already know. All e-mails from this time on will be BOUNCED. Don't waste your time. Sincerely, THE GREATEST LYNYRD SKYNYRD FAN ON EARTH, BAR NONE.

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peach4peace // July 09, 2011 1:24:12 AM UTC

Sorry guys but to me you just aren't Lynyrd Skynyrd. Skynyrd ended on October 20, 1977. Yes, you sound good as a tribute band but to name yourselves Lynyrd Skynyrd was not the right thing to do. To some fans it is a travesty. I was fortunate enough to see the ORIGINAL Lynyrd Skynyrd live in 1977 a few months prior to the crash and they were incredible!!!!! Gary, you guys absolutely ROCKED!!!! The loss of Ronnie, Steve & Cassie in the crash was truly the end of the band however.

I loved the Rossington - Collins band too. Great stuff!!!! Why not just call the band Skynyrd Tribute or the Rossington - Van Zant Band? Maybe some of the fans of the original Skynyrd (like me) wouldn't be so averse to listening to your new music if you didn't use the name? I probably would have bought a Rossington - Van Zant album and actually enjoyed it! To use the name Lynyrd Skynyrd just isn't appropriate in my opinion and actually feels to some of us like a disservice to the history and legacy of the original band. Today, you seem to have contrary values to the original band... boo boo boo! God & Guns? Maybe you should listen to Ronnie's lyrics for "Saturday Night Special" again!

In my opinion, "Street Survivors" will always be the final album recorded by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Just let it be and keep that memory alive. Using the name really makes you folks look like you're just selling out. Are you really only in it for the money? Sure seems like it. Do you honestly think Keith Richards would still name his band The Rolling Stones if Mick Jagger were no longer with us? Seriously! To any of you newer (younger) fans of the current lineup calling themselves Lynyrd Skynyrd, why not honor the real legacy... go buy "One More From The Road", "Street Survivors" or any of the other original Lynyrd Skynyrd albums. You definitely won't regret it!

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