Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Gary Rossington Answers Critics Angry About Band Carrying On With One Original Member
Lynyrd Skynyrd released a new album on Tuesday (Aug. 21). ‘Last of a Dyin” Breed is being called a return to the classic Skynyrd sound, and the recently released title track backs up that claim. The album title could refer to guitarist Gary Rossington, who is indeed the last of a dying breed. He’s the only remaining original member of the legendary rock group. Critics have wondered how he can justify carrying on with a lineup of “replacements.” Rossington says he’s not trying to fool anybody.
“It is not the original band, we know that and everybody knows that,” the 60-year-old guitarist tells Classic Rock Revisited (quotes via Bravewords). “We started with the Tribute Tour, back in 1987 … The thing is that it never stopped, and we never stopped. It has just been ongoing and we have reinvented ourselves, so to speak.”
“It is not the original band, but we just carry the name, the spirit and the music onward. It is all about the music that we wrote so long ago; we want to keep it alive.”
With ‘(Pronounced ‘Leh-’nerd ‘Skin-nerd)’ turning 40-years-old in 2013, current singer Johnny Van Zant told Ultimate Classic Rock that the band has stayed fresh by listening to new music (country rockers Blackberry Smoke are a current favorite) and not trying to rewrite ‘Free Bird’ or ‘Sweet Home Alabama.’
“We just go ‘hey, let’s write songs,’” he said. “Let’s write songs and if it sounds like a Skynyrd song, that’s great. If it doesn’t sound like a Skynyrd song that’s great, because this is what we’re writing. And it seems to have worked out with us.”
Rossington adds that the memories of the late band members are never far away. “We keep their memory alive and I really believe their spirit is in these songs,” he tells Classic Rock Revisited. You mentioned ‘Mississippi Blood’ and I will tell you that if Ronnie (Van Zant) and Allen (Collins), and the other guys were here, they would say, ‘You are doing it right.’”