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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ronnieinmyheart420 // August 18, 2010 10:35:21 PM UTC

@bermudaborn56: You bermudaborn56 (or how 'bout bb56 fer short?) are one of the luckiest folks on this ball of mud ever.
I'd give my left nut (or my right one) to be able to go to Jacksonville, Florida or Birmingham,Alabama,if they'd let me in the U.S.A. first of all, to party and jam with the Skynyrd gang for a week,day, hour, or even fifteen minutes.
YOU WILL NOT EVER FIND A MORE LOYAL, DEDICATED FAN OF THE GEAT LYNYRD SKYNYRD BAND ANYWHERE IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE. AND THAT IS OR MAY AS WELL BE WRITTEN IN STONE BY GOD HIS SELF.
Ya'll can laugh yer face purple reading this and may think,"…ya right…", but you know one thing? YOU GOT THAT RIGHT.
Bottom line, I ENVY YOU FROM YOUR SKYNYRD EXPERIENCE.I never got to see 'em live, 'cause I was in the hospital, pret' near dead when the plane fueled out in South Carolina or the North one. That terrible incident ruined my train of thought for a long damn time. Thanx fer yer time in reading my response. God Bless Lynyrd Skynyrd and do it now. Take care now, ya here?

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bermudaborn56 // August 18, 2010 3:43:06 AM UTC

I have no response to anyones comments, but if any of the band members read this, really sorry to hear about the guys. I used to work at Ron Turner cycles in jax with Johnnie's oldest daughter, from around 04 to 05 when I had my bike accident in march of 05 going to bike week. Just about two yrs or so ago, the girls brought you (Johnnie) an album (pronounced) and had you (Johnnie and Billy and Gary) sign it. Thank you guys very much. And about two yrs ago my son and I were cruising my boat thru the back water tributaries over by the black creek area (we were camping at the old girl scout camp ground just south of the bridge) and came upon your land and dock and talked to a couple guys that said that is where you played now and then and in the old days, and also showed us the train track bridge just down the ways where you took your pics for your other album. It was a very nostalgic chat we had with the guys, not sure who they were, but I guess your buddies, lol. Anyway. I live in Jax on the ss still, over by the former ron turners cycles and I play drums. If you ever get a jam going on in jax, I would love to sit in and play one song with you guys. You can check out my drum set on my facebook under ken thurman and ask your daughter (we called her Red, lol. she was dating Tom back then) just to verify who I am and not a weirdo, lol. I hope someone from the band reads this and gets in touch. thanks. ken.

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swampmusicolehounddog // August 16, 2010 1:35:40 PM UTC


HOW'Z IT GOIN' YA REBEL DOGS? ME?, WELL I'M JUST FREAKIN' DUCKY. HEY GARY, OR SHOULD I ADDRESS YA AS MR. ROSSINGTON? I WILL BE YOUR BAND'S "GO-BOY". YOU KNOW, RUN OVER HERE, THER, ANYTHING, TOO A POINT, ANYTHING REASONABLE re: guitar tuning, amp carrying, other instrument maintenance,etc.
I AM READY, WILLING AND MORE THAN ABLE TO DO MOST OF YOUR DIRTY WORK, BUT (even better), FOR FREE.JUST GIVE ME A CORNER TO CRASH AT TIMES AND A BIT OF FOOD, SOME SMOKES, I'LL PROVIDE MY BUD, IN FACT IT'S AS GOOD AS B.C. BUD BUT IT DID NOT HAVE A FANCY NAME, LIKE MOST OTHER BUD. ONE DAY, THE FAN LEAVES TURNED BLACKER THAN TOBY'S ARSE, SO I LABELED THE DRIED BUD "BLACK DAHLIA". COOL NAME EH?
ANYWAZE, YAZ LIKELY HAD A MILLION FANS SAY THEY'D DO IT, BUT WOULD OR COULD THEY? I F@%$(*^ DOUBT. AS FAR AS ME, I CAN DO THE FORE MENTIONED JOB FOR JUST FOOD. I DO NOT DRINK "BOTTLED ARSEHOLE" A.K.A. BOOZE EVER, SO I'D BE A VERY GOOD FREE SECURITY GUY TOO.
JUST GIVE IT A SECOND, TO THINK ABOUT IT. I DO HAVE A CRIMINAL RECORD FOR GROWING A MEDICINAL PLANT, CAN YOU BELIEVE WHAT THIS WORLD HAS COME TO?
WHY WOULD A GUY OFFER TO WORK, AND I KNOW HOW HARD YA'LL MUST WORK, AND FOR FREE? REASON BEING, SO I CAN JAM A BIT WUTH GARY ON MY TELY (a freaking beauty 4 sure) AND TO WORK FOR RONNIE (R.I.P.) AND THE REST OF THE PASSED SKYNYRD BAND MEMBERS WHO HAVE SINCE PASSED OR STEVE,CASSIE,ETC. WHO PERISHED IN A SWAMP 'CAUSE SOME LAZY PIOLET INSISTED "…THERES ENOUGH FUEL…" (YA RIGHT, EVIDENTALLY EH?).
LOOK MONEY IS GRAT, BUT IT AIN'T EVERYTHING, MAYBR ITS THE ONLY THING, BUT, I WOULD BE JUST ECSTATIC ABOUT WORKING FOR "THE BEST BAND WHO LIVED ON THE PLANRT, EVER AND THE STREET SURVIVORS WHO ARE STILL SURVIVING. SURVIVE FOREVER GUYS, BECAUSE I ALREADY KNOW WHAT THE ANSWER WILL BE re: WORKING FOR LYNYRD SKYNYRD (4 FREE). TAKE CARE GUYS N' GALS AND KEEP ON PICKIN' AND A GRINNIN' EH YA'LL? FROM YOUR, WITHOUT A DOUBT, BESTEST FAN YA'LL WILL EVER HAVE, AND THE MOST LOYAL, "RONNIEINMYHEART".

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Cella // August 09, 2010 11:29:17 PM UTC

@BranchWhitney: I agree! He did set the theme for the band. He was pretty much the song writer for the band. I have read up on them for years too. Everyone that knows me knows I am a huge Skynyrd Fan! On my door at work I had the count down of days to my next Skynyrd concert. The workers would always say they have heard of counting down to Christmas and all but not to a concert. "28 Days to Skynyrd!"

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BranchWhitney // August 09, 2010 11:16:27 PM UTC

@Cella: Wow! What a great story. I have a great black n white photo of Ronnie reaching out from the stage and grabbing hands. It's my favorite photo of Ronnie. I believe Ronnie set the theme of the band: Southern boys with a ton of musical talent.

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Cella // August 09, 2010 11:09:23 PM UTC

@BranchWhitney: How funny! My story is that I started my son on Rock-n-Roll with LS when he was 9 years old. He is now 18, but his favorite song was "Gimme Three Steps". When they came close to where we lived I bought tickets. Long story short, we are at the concert and on the floor, but my son was too small to see above the crowd, he was too heavy for me to hold on my shoulders. He wanted to stand on the chair, the bouncer or concert staff kept telling him to get down. He didn't want to miss his favorite song. After a while the bouncer saw how upset he was getting, tapped me on my shoulder and waved for us to follow him. He took us right up to the wall under neath Gary Rossington. I was so grateful to him. Anyway, his song finally came on. My son was so excited. He could barely see above the was but just enough. Gary looked down at my son and winked at him. When his song was over, Free Bird came on and my boy was the only little one on the wall. Johnnie saw him and during the song he pointed at my son and said "Little Guy", my son was freak'n out by this time and I was drooling on his head for being that close. When they really started to jam in FreeBird they all moved down and jammed in front of me and my son. They kept pointing at him and acknowleging him. When the song was over, Gary and Ricky bent down and gave my son their picks. I was just so overwhelmed by all that and my son could not believe they did that for him and the bouncer. When we got home my son put the picks and the ticket stub in a picture frame and to this day he remembers all that and still has the frame. I wrote to them after that concert and thanked them for the memory they gave me and especially my son. Weeks later they sent back a letter and an autograph picture of the band. They truly are a down to earth group of guys and gals and truly made an impression on my son. To this day also, my son loves rock and roll and I am so grateful for that. I just wanted you to know one of my memories of LS.

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BranchWhitney // August 09, 2010 10:36:45 PM UTC

@Cella: It was great times. Ronnie told us a story how when they were in Chicago during the winter he went outside on a hotel balcony and the door locked. He was up high (5 th story ) and was freezing to death. He only had a t-shirt on. He whistle down to some bum on the street for help and the bum went for help.

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Cella // August 09, 2010 10:19:05 PM UTC

@BranchWhitney: Wow, your memory sounds wonderful. I have followed them since the 70's also but did not get that lucky as you did. That is just GREAT!

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BranchWhitney // August 09, 2010 9:56:24 PM UTC

Met the band numerous times back in the 70's. Still have a backstage pass Billy ripped off a suitcase and gave to me. One night after the show my friend and I were up in Alan Collin's room along with Gary and others. My friend asked Allan how he played Freebird. Alan gave his guitar to my friend and helped him with the finger positioning. (I am not a musician, obviously). That was one of the high points of my friend's life!

The guys were always very friendly to me, even though I was just an 18 year old kid. I remember Ronnie was very into the south and the Civil War. He told us we were "OK" even though we were from the north. Sadly, I remember Ronnie telling us he did not like to fly.

Fly high Freebird!

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chrisbrodziks // August 01, 2010 12:47:55 AM UTC

lynyrd skynyrd you are my favorite band i saw you guys 3 times please come to the borgata in atlantic city NJ thanks you guys!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU ROCK

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