Guitarist Rickey Medlocke has responded to criticism that the current lineup of Lynyrd Skynyrd is a “tribute band.”

The group no longer has any original members following the death of Gary Rossington in 2023. Medlocke joined Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1971 and stayed until ‘72, then returned in 1996 and has been with the group ever since. During an appearance on Real Music With Gary Stuckey, the guitarist noted he’s heard plenty of negative comments.

"We hear a lot of, 'Oh, it's nothing but a tribute band,'” Medlocke admitted (as transcribed by Blabbermouth). “Well, they even said that when Gary was still alive. But here's the way I look at it. You've got the original singer's youngest brother [Johnny Van Zant] that has been in there almost 37 years. You've got me. That's my second go-round with the band, and I was in the original group, the formidable group. And you had Gary, an original founding member. Well, to us, us three guys standing upfront, we were, like, 'No, no, no, no, no, no.'"

READ MORE: Skynyrd's Rickey Medlocke Flips the Bird to Rock Hall Over Exclusion

Medlocke noted that actual tribute bands, like those found on YouTube, are made up of “strangers that love to play cover songs.” His group, he argued, is very different.

"When you come to see Lynyrd Skynyrd, when you come to see us, it's full-on tilt original-sounding, as close as you could ever possibly get,” the rocker explained. “So the people sitting there behind their little computer keyboards and talking shit, they can talk that shit all they want to. My word is if you can do better than me, step up. You know what I mean? Come on. Come on with it.”

Rickey Medlocke Promised Gary Rossington He'd Keep Lynyrd Skynyrd Going

Medlocke’s pride in Lynyrd Skynyrd is understandable considering the decades he’s dedicated to the band. The guitarist also feels a sense of duty to Rossington, who insisted the group continue after his death.

READ MORE: Bands With No Original Members

“Gary made us promise that we would never, ever let the integrity of the band and the music history of the band, never let it be forgotten,” the guitarist confessed. “Just all of a sudden, he's gone, the band's gone, and you might hear it on radio every once in a while, or people get together for a barbecue and they play the music or whatever. We got so much corresponding comments, letters, notes, e-mail, text messages, and the one deciding factor was, 'Please, don't let this be the end of it.' Well, okay."

Medlocke also pointed out that lineup changes are commonplace in rock.

"If you really stop to think about this, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards is the only original members in the Rolling Stones," the guitarist argued. "I mean, Ron Wood's been there a long time, but Mick Jagger and Keith Richards is the original guys standing there. And they've got all different musicians playing with them now.”

Lynyrd Skynyrd has extensive touring plans in 2024, including the Sharp Dressed Simple Man Tour alongside ZZ Top.

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Gallery Credit: Michael Gallucci

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