Lynyrd Skynyrd has continued forward with longtime singer Johnny Van Zant and guitarist Rickey Medlocke, despite the death of co-founding plane crash survivor Gary Rossington. Both of them were almost on the same tragic flight.

Medlocke had been a member from 1971-72 and also appeared on "One More Time" from 1977's Street Survivors, released just before Lynyrd Skynyrd's Convair CV-240 went down in rural Mississippi. He'd remained friends with original frontman Ronnie Van Zant while starting a new group called Blackfoot. At this point, Van Zant's eventual successor was still simply known as his little brother Johnny.

Ronnie Van Zant gave Medlocke a preview of the new album when he and his father stopped by Lynyrd Skynyrd's new studio in Jacksonville, Fla., not long before their fateful flight. "When it was all over, as we were leaving, Ronnie said, 'Rickey, we got our own airplane. You want to come ride with us for a week? You can just hang out, or maybe jam with us?'" Medlocke tells Guido Pirano of The Monthly Social podcast.

READ MORE: Top 10 Lynyrd Skynyrd Songs

Medlocke said he briefly considered joining them but ended up fulfilling some new touring obligations with Blackfoot. Meanwhile, Medlocke reveals that Johnny Van Zant also wanted to be aboard the plane but his parents told him he couldn't go.

Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Steve Gaines were among those who died on Oct. 20, 1977, as Lynyrd Skynyrd made their way to a concert in Baton Rouge, La., from Greenville, S.C.

"Well, they go on the road. We go on the road," Medlocke remembers. "They played Greenville, S.C. That was their last show. We, as Blackfoot, was pulling up that day into Columbia, S.C. — as they were flying out of Greenville, right down the road. That's how close fate was."

Gary Rossington Offered Comforting Words

When he heard the news, Medlocke said he rushed back to the hotel to call his father. "The phone didn't even ring one time, [and] my dad picked it up and I said, 'Pop, tell me it ain't so,'" Medlocke says. "And he goes, 'It's true. They just announced over the TV that Ronnie is one of the people that had perished.'"

Lynyrd Skynyrd initially broke up before reforming for a tribute tour that evolved into an official reunion. Johnny stepped in for his late sibling in 1987; Medlocke returned to the fold in 1996.

Rossington died in 2023 after years of health troubles, but not before providing some sense of comfort for Medlocke during a heartfelt conversation held out on the road.

"I say, 'Gary, always thought, maybe, had I have been there, I might have been able to say something, or do something or that might have made a difference,'" Medlocke said. "He goes, 'Rickey, look, there was no stopping it. That's the way it was gonna be.' And he goes, 'To be honest with you, Rickey, it wasn't meant for you to be there then — it's meant for you to be here now."

Top 25 Southern Rock Albums

For all of its woolly, trapped-in-the-'70s imagery, the genre has proven surprisingly resilient.

Gallery Credit: Nick DeRiso

When Lynyrd Skynyrd's Rickey Medlocke Met Kiss