By Julie Rosenbaum-Engelhardt
Evansville Courier & Press
EVANSVILLE -- To lead guitarist Gary Rossington, it wasn't fate that saved his life when he was a passenger on the plane that went down in 1977, killing lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and two other members of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
"I believe that God had plans for me and it wasn't my time to go," said Rossington, the lone original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, who will perform at 8 p.m. Friday at Roberts Stadium. "I believe there was a reason for me being here. It sounds crazy, but that's what I really believe."
Unlike many bands who once enjoyed megastardom, Lynyrd Skynyrd isn't content to just play old hits. They recently released their new CD "God and Guns," from which they performed "Simple Life" on several late-night talk shows.
"This band has a lot of talent and we had a lot to say," Rossington said. "We're very happy with the response 'God and Guns' is getting."
Growing up in Jacksonville, Fla., Rossington stood in front of a mirror with a broomstick, pretending to be Elvis Presley. When he saw the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show, he decided he wanted to get a Silvertone guitar.
"I was raised by my momma," Rossington said. "We didn't have much money, so I got a paper route and paid a $1.60 a month until my $8 guitar was paid for."
Playing Little League baseball, Gary met up with Ronnie Van Zant.
"Ronnie couldn't sing, but he acted like he could and we put a little band together and he sang Beach Boys and Stones songs," said Rossington, who barely knew any chords at the time.
Eventually, Lynyrd Skynyrd became one of the most admired bands of the 1970s and "Free Bird," along with Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven," and Derek and the Dominos' "Layla," became an anthem for the entire decade.
Dale Rossington, Gary's wife, and a backup singer for Skynyrd, recalls that the Georgia phone book published their phone number and address.
"I can't tell you how many kids called about learning to play 'Free Bird' on their guitar and school projects," said Dale, an Angola, Ind., native who still considers herself a Hoosier. "One even sent up a screenplay. It was wild."
Gary donated his guitar, Berneice, named after his beloved mother, to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; Skynyrd was inducted into the Hall in 2006.
After the plane crash, the band went on hiatus and Rossington formed the Rossington-Collins Band. Dale Krantz, who had been a backup singer for .38 Special, which was fronted by Donnie Van Zant, joined Rossington-Collins as lead vocalist. She and Gary were later married. "The love story is still going strong," Dale said.
While Rossington was conducting this telephone interview, his two little grandchildren came down to show him their Halloween outfits. One of his grandchildren is named Jackson, after Jackson Hole, Wyo., which Gary says: "I've been to so many places in this world and I've never seen anything as beautiful or as close to heaven as Jackson Hole."
In 1987, Skynyrd did a reunion tour with Johnny Van Zant, the youngest of the three brothers, as lead vocalist and they've been going strong ever since. Johnny has fond memories of Ronnie, who was also Skynyrd's primary songwriter.
"My brother is probably up in heaven, fishing and laughing at us for having to work so hard down here," Johnny said.
Within the last year, tragedy struck Skynyrd once again. Keyboardist Billy Powell died of an apparent heart attack in January and bassist Ean Evans died of cancer in May. But as the song from "God and Guns" says, they're still "Unbroken." When tragedy hits them like the legendary Phoenix, Skynyrd continues to rise above the flames.
By Julie Rosenbaum-Engelhardt
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Lynyrd Skynyrd “God and Guns” By Julie Rosenbaum-Engelhardt
"God and Guns," the new CD by Lynyrd Skynyrd, is a return to
form for the legendary Southern rockers.
After the death of lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve
Gaines and vocalist Cassie Gaines in a plane crash in 1977 and
losing two members just this year (Billy Powell and Ean Evans),
the group remained unbroken and put out this new CD.
As the words say, they "may have lost everything, but they're not dead, at least not yet."
"Still Unbroken," which opens the CD, touches the heart. "Simple Life" shows a yearning for the time when you sat down with your family and talked about your day, instead of staring at a computer screen.
The title cut is a political statement about how prayer should not have been taken out of schools and people have a Second Amendment right to have a gun.
If you like hard rock, Southern rock or just good music with a meaning, this CD has it all. It doesn't really matter what your political views are. Singer Johnny Van Zant sounds as good as he did 20 years ago as do the musicians. Through all the tribulations, Skynyrd once again proves
they're here to stay.
Almost always when a band makes a comeback CD, it is a disappointment. We expect them to sound like they did years ago, which is virtually impossible. The new Skynyrd CD, however, is as
good as ever and the band is rocking like they did in the '70s.
New York (Top40 Charts/ Webster PR) - Lynyrd Skynyrd will be performing live from New York City as part of the Fox & Friends Outdoor Concert Series on Monday, Oct 19th.
Lynyrd Skynyrd will perform throughout the 3-hour program featuring songs from their latest album God & Guns, released September 29 on Loud & Proud / Roadrunner Records.
Fox and Friends begins at 6 am EST on Fox News Channel. If you are in the New York area, come out to the corner of 48th St and 6th Avenue to catch Lynyrd Skynyrd live on the Plaza.
Also, if you missed Lynyrd Skynyrd's performance of 'Simple Life' on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, there will be a repeat airing on Thursday, October 22nd. Don't forget to tune in (again)!
Lynyrd Skynyrd proves they're 'Still Unbroken'
The Southern Rock icons played a 9-song set in Manhattan Wednesday night.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
By Tracy Bratten - Clear Channel Radio Digital
Lynyrd Skynyrd pulled out all the stops in New York Wednesday night, rocking out at Manhattan's PC Richard and Son Theater in front of 200 fans, put on by New York's Q104.3. After over three decades that have seen numerous band members come and go, most often due to tragedy, the nine current members of Lynyrd Skynyrd proved that they are the physical embodiment of their latest single, "Still Unbroken."
Read the rest of the article here.
(Webster and Assoc) Southern rock rebels, Lynyrd Skynyrd are set to appear on Fox News Channel's Hannity to talk God & Guns this Friday.
That's not the only reason Lynyrd Skynyrd will be on Hannity Friday. Sean Hannity, a long time supporter of Lynyrd Skynyrd, welcomed Rickey Medlocke, Gary Rossington and Johnny Van Zant on the show to also make a very special announcement. Tune in Friday to find out!
God & Guns released September 29 on Loud & Proud / Roadrunner Records manages to maintain the iconic Skynyrd punch while sounding completely contemporary.
Attracting attention in these politically divided times is the title track, which harbors a sense of menace and unwillingness to back down that hearkens back to Skynyrd's earliest days.
With a backbone of Southern rock and country, passionate Van Zant vocals, and trademark layered guitars, God & Guns form thematic songs for an album laden with attitude, heart and purpose.
About Sean Hannity's Freedom Concerts
Since 2003, over $10 million has been raised for the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund through the Freedom Concerts and generous donations from the Sean Hannity Show and its listeners. The Scholarship Fund is designated for the education of children of U.S. service members who have been killed or 100% permanently disabled in an operational mission or training accident. All net proceeds from ticket sales (after musical talent, production, promotion and venue expenses) are donated to the Scholarship Fund, aiding greatly in this effort to assist hundreds of families who have lost their loved ones while they were protecting and defending our nation and our freedoms.
Lynyrd Skynyrd will headline 9 shows in August 2010 in support of this great cause. Check the Tour Dates page for show dates. Click on the photo above for details and ticket info.
Skynyrd is coming to Verona, NY, and we know that you want to be there! Current LS fan club members will have exclusive access to presale ticket for the November 22, 2009 date starting tomorrow, October 7 at 10AM EDT and ending Friday, October 9 at 10PM EDT. Presale tickets are limited and available on a first come, first served basis, so be ready tomorrow at 10AM sharp!
11/22/09 - Turning Stone Resort & Casino Event Center (Verona, NY)
Coupon codes will be required to purchase presale tickets via Ticketmaster for the above show. Coupon codes will be emailed on Tuesday, October 6 by 8pm EST to all active LS fan club members.
Please check your spam filter for your email if you do not receive your coupon codes by Wednesday morning (10/7) by 9am. If it’s not in your spam and you did not receive it, please email email@example.com or call 212-420-1700 after 9:30am EST on Wednesday, October 7.
Please use the following link for the Ticketmaster presales on the below dates and make sure you have your Ticketmaster coupon code ready.
We'll see you there!