Turn it up! For decades listeners have been heeding the instruction spoken by Lynyrd Skynyrd lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant at the beginning of the band’s big hit “Sweet Home Alabama.” The song is extremely fun to sing along with, especially if you’re in the car and can easily reach for the volume knob and crank the tune, maybe in part to help gloss over your less-than-perfect vocals. Fans have been making memories with the music of Lynyrd Skynyrd for more than 40-years, including during the band’s recent appearance on the Southern Rock Cruise where the group played two shows while the cruise was in port in Cozumel, Mexico. The cruise shows were a special treat for fans as Lynyrd Skynyrd generally performs in much larger venues.
Lynyrd Skynyrd has tour dates booked through July, including an April 27 appearance at Stagecoach 2019 at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, CA. (Tickets) Fans in Europe can catch the band in June, including at four shows in the UK:
June 26 – Glasgow, Scotland – The SSE Hydro (Tickets)
June 27 – Manchester, England – Manchester Arena (Tickets)
June 29 – London, England – The SSE Arena, Wembley (Tickets)
June 30 – Birmingham, England – Resorts World Arena (Tickets)
Here are our Top 5 reasons to see Lynyrd Skynyrd perform live.
5. Rock and roll perseverance
Lots of bands have had difficult times in their careers and many have experienced the death of band members, but the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd have demonstrated a devotion to their music that few bands can match. Beginning with the 1977 plane crash that took the lives of original lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and backup singer Cassie Gaines, the band has suffered one tragedy after another as death has taken a dozen band members. With the recent death of guitarist Ed King, the co-writer of “Sweet Home Alabama” and the creator of its instantly-recognizable guitar riff intro, the sole surviving original member of the band is guitarist Gary Rossington.
4. Consummate musicianship
The fact that Lynyrd Skynyrd has had so much member turnover has taken an emotional toll, but not a musical one. The band’s lead singer is Johnny Van Zant, the brother of Ronnie, and no one else could possibly replicate Ronnie’s vocals like Johnny does. Rossington has been one of the band’s guitarists the entire time, and guitarist Rickey Medlocke, formerly of Blackfoot, has been a member of the band for more than 20-years. Others with lengthy stints include keys man Peter Keys, guitarist Mark Matejka, drummer Michael Cartellone and backing vocals singers Dale Krantz-Rossington and Carol Chase. The band presents a note-perfect and high energy show every time.
3. Music history
The Southern rock genre is going strong today thanks to groups like Blackberry Smoke, Black Stone Cherry and others, and the continuing popularity of the style is due to a great extent to the Jacksonville band that was one of the originators of the style. Just as prog bands like Yes and Genesis laid the groundwork for today’s prog acts like Spock’s Beard and the Pineapple Thief, groups like the Marshall Tucker Band, Molly Hatchet, 38 Special and the Allman Brothers Band paved the way for today’s Southern rockers. But there is no disputing that Lynyrd Skynyrd was at the forefront of history in creating the Southern rock sound and taking it to radio with cuts like “Free Bird,” “That Smell,” “Gimme Back my Bullets,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Simple Man,” “Tuesday’s Gone,” “Gimme Three Steps” and “Saturday Night Special.”
2. “Free Bird”
If you go to a lot of concerts you have probably heard someone catcall for a band or performer to play “Free Bird.” Usually done in an inappropriate setting, like calling for an acoustic solo performer to play the rowdy and lengthy guitar-heavy cut, the shout-out is done in jest and generally garners a few laughs. On the other hand, no one will ever have to shout “Free Bird” at Lynyrd Skynyrd; the band will always play the song that is the most-beloved Southern rock cut of all time. These days the performance of “Free Bird” includes a nice tribute to Ronnie Van Zant, and through the magic of technology, he actually sings a portion of the song while video of him is projected behind the band. Especially touching during the tribute to Ronnie is a mic stand placed at center stage, draped with an American flag and topped with one of Ronnie’s funky hats.
1. You don’t have too many more chances
The name of the current Lynyrd Skynyrd tour is “Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour,” referencing the Street Survivors album that came out just a few days before the 1977 plane crash. While some bands have notoriously gone back on their word with farewell tours, it is not likely with Lynyrd Skynyrd. The band has given their all for so many years and the time has come for them to relax and enjoy their legacy. See this legendary band while you still can.
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