Lynyrd Skynyrd Bio


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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Cella // September 21, 2010 11:38:57 AM UTC

@georgia dawg: Ha - you are right too. Thank you, I fixed it.


georgia dawg // September 21, 2010 4:32:03 AM UTC

@Cella: I agree with you 100% about Mr. Kansas, he did spell it wrong. But does it really matter? We understand what he meant to say. Just like we all understand what you were meaning to say when you typed " In all do respect". You actually meant "In all due respect.


Cella // September 21, 2010 2:34:33 AM UTC

@kansas skynard man: In all due respect Mr. Kansas, if you have been a fan since the 70's you should by now know how to spell SKYNYRD.


kansas skynard man // September 21, 2010 2:09:53 AM UTC

i have told people over the years about skynard nation, do not look at the song titles and judge them, listen to the music. The lyrics tell about skynard. Ihave been listening to them since 1975, have not heard a bad album. Keep on rockin boys. FREEBIRD.


Weirdo // September 13, 2010 4:14:07 AM UTC

To Whom it may Concern,

My cousin has created a Harley Davidson motorcycle with a theme in
support of our troops, both past and present. He has dedicated many
resources to this project which started out being a memory project for our
Uncle which served in Vietnam in many aspects of the war front. The bike has
tributes to soldiers which have died in the line of duty in Iraq. My son
which is actively serving in the Army is suffering from many traumas as a
result of the Iraq war, which he served two tours (2 years) of duty there.
My question is there any interest of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Band to help support
this project? Whether it is money, give us permissions to use your songs in
a power point presentation at bike rallys or whatever level of support you
would like to contribute would be greatly appreciated. I realize that you
probably get request all the time for money, or authorization for using the
bands songs, or some type of support, but since the band likes to support our troops this would be a great oppurtunity.
Todd Wooldrige from Tennessee has been supporting this
project out of his pocket and support from friends is presently unemployed.
If there was ever a person which deserves the support of the people is him
for his efforts to support our troops through his Uncle's motorcycle, which
is absolutely amazing the response this motorcycle gets from the American
people .

Anything that you could do to help with this project to show our
appreciation for our troops would be greatly appreciated. You can contact me
or email Todd (Weirdo) at

Take Care, Abravo4u

FYI Weirdo lives in Tennessee and would love to bring the bike to your concert there in Oct.


The Clark Family // September 10, 2010 7:45:22 PM UTC

Lynyrd Skynyrd is very important to our family. My wife's uncle a great Family Man & Avid Biker was buried wearing his colors, and with a copy of the 1st album [vinyl] and a bottle of Jack Daniels. John Smith will be greatly missed but he is good company now!!!

I was in high school & never got to see the Pheonix Show in 1977. My Wife & I finally got our chance this year @ The Fairgrounds in Portland, OR to see our Favorite Band/Extended Family. God Bless You!!! Thanks for the Great Show!!! Keep doing what you do!!!


Weirdo // September 07, 2010 7:31:06 AM UTC

To Whom This May Concern,
Hello. My name is Tod 'Weirdo' Wooldridge. I have a 1986 FLHTC Liberty Edition Harley Davison motorcycle. I have had it painted and done up in honor of our troops and veterans. I would like to share with you the story behind this amazing bike.
Bob Wooldridge, my uncle, was born in West Virginia on June 18, 1947. At the age of 16, Bob moved to Chicago to live with my father, Larry Wooldridge, and my mother, Ramona Wooldridge. Bob entered the United States Army on September 14, 1966, returning home on April 15, 1969. He then moved back in with my parents after he returned from Vietnam until he was able to get his own place and get back on his feet. Throughout the years, Bob was like the big brother I never had. He and I did alot of stuff together, some that I'm proud of and some that I won't talk about until I find out the statue of Limitations. Bob and I rode together for about 20 years and in 1998, my family and I moved to Tennessee. In September of 2004, Bob was to ride his bike down to ride the Tail of the Dragon with a friend and me. Unfortunately, Bob passed away on August 3, 2004 due to congestive heart failure complicated by diabetes. In his will, he asked that his ashes be spread at Oak Street Beach in Chicago, IL. I am happy to say that we honored that wish. Also, in Bob's will, he left me his two motorcycles. A 1969 FLH Old School Chopper and a 1986 FLHTC Liberty Edition. After I got my bikes home, it bothered me to ride them, so I let them sit most of the time and rode my own motorcycle.
At the end of 2007, I brought the bike to Kenny Hadron, who owns Air-FX in Cleveland, TN, and explained to him how much my uncle meant to me, how much the motorcycle meant to me, and that I wanted to honor my uncle, our troops, and our veterans. Kenny then spent six weeks creating a paint job that is a true tribute to my Uncle Bob, and all of our Armed Forces. In 2009, Charilie Wade of Ultimate Cycles in Chattanooga, TN, agreed to take on the challenge of doing a complete and total tear-down of the motorcycle so that I could have Jason Williams (from Auto-Cycle Powder Coating in Red Bank, TN) powder coat the entire motor, transmission, frame, and front end, matching the rest of the bike. After the powder coating was complete, the crew from Ultimate Cycles reassembled the whole motorcycle. While the work was going on, Kenny spent another six weeks working his magic with an airbrush. At the same time, we also had Henry and the guys from Chopper Squad Customs in Etowah, TN, do some fabrication work on the motorcycle such as converting real hand grenades into highway pegs, mounting M16 bayonets down the front forks, adding an eight-foot tall flag pole to the back, later adding a fallen soldier memorial to the back as well.
On the front of the bike there is a portrait of my Uncle Bob from when he was in Vietnam. Hanging from the dashboard is a small vial containing Bob's ashes and the sand where we spread his ashes, so that 30 years later, he and I are still riding together? On the bottom of the back fender are my father and uncle's dog tags painted side-by-side. This motorcycle touches many veterans and people who have someone serving in the military. There are often veterans who come up and look at the bike and start to cry. Like I said, this is a tribute to my uncle, veterans and those serving in our United States Military now. While my father will always be my number one her, Bob Wooldridge will always hold a special place in my heart.
My number one goal with this bike is simple: Get the word out that we couldn't go out on weekend and do the stuff we love if our Armed Forces did not go and fight for our freedom. I wish to spread this message to everyone. I have showed this bike locally and at bike shows for the past few years, but I would like to spread the message to a wider audience. That is why I think it would be cool for me to show this motorcycle at your concert in Maryville, TN. I hope it would touch more people. I also hope you would accept this offer. I would be happy to do it and be greatly appreciative if you were to accept. Thank you for your time. If you have any questions or comments please contact me at


Simple Mountain // September 04, 2010 12:47:23 PM UTC

Nothing documents history on a personal level better than music.Through the good times as well as tough ones there always seems to be a song that coincides.For me its always been Skynyrd.The blaring of Freebird while strapping on the pads before a game,the death of a father,a marriage and watching three boys grow as i grow older with them. I have always found comfort in their music.And until i die and they play Simpleman and Freebird at my funeral,keep on rockin guys!Z.


Jacksonvill rock and roll // September 04, 2010 8:43:15 AM UTC

My sister saw your brother at his last concert. It was a sad day when your brother died i have been a fan sence Jacksonvill. I grew up in Ocala and have respected the southern rock all my life. My girlfriend got tickets tonight for my Bday she Knows what you guys mean to me. It was owsome to see you guys again you look just like your Bro love you both David G HAVE BEEN AND ALWAYS WILL BE YOUR FANS ROCK ON WE WILL FOWLLOW WE PROMISE AS ALWAYS BE SAFE.


sounder // September 04, 2010 4:00:46 AM UTC

To the band:

I got to see the show last night in Tulalip, WA; a great show! My ears are still ringing as I type this! I missed getting to meet you all after the show. (I did get Boxcar's autograph though-he was shocked that I asked him. He played well onstage with the Harmonica). Rickey: glad you are still playing and having fun-I still crankup "Highway Song" and "Morning Dew" from your Blackfoot days...I wish you all great success in the future.


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