Hall of Famers Lynyrd Skynyrd to play DTE, BlossomWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
“God and Guns,” Lynyrd Skynyrd’s first studio release in six years, is loaded with political and survival themes, delivered with the group’s three-guitar firepower.
“This country was founded on God and guns, you know, and the Second Amendment,” said Gary Rossington, guitarist and a founding member of the Southern rock band. “We just live out in the country in Florida so you have to protect yourself from bad neighbors if there are any, snakes and gators and things like that, so we believe in guns to protect yourself. Of course, not handguns that you kill people with and run around with hidden.
“And we believe in God, and we think it was better when we used to pray in school and say the Pledge of Allegiance. We’re not really preaching it, that’s just the way we feel.”
Lynyrd Skynyrd has dealt with a lot of feelings the past three decades. The rockers took a 10-year break after a 1977 plane crash claimed the lives of singer Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Steve Gaines. Since then, five members have died.
While recording “God and Guns,” the group lost keyboardist Billy Powell, 56, and bassist Ean Evans, 48.
“It was kind of a healing process for us to finish the record for Billy and Ean and play as best we could,” Rossington said during a call from New York City last fall. “They were part of this album and played on some songs and were around when we were starting it, so we wanted to finish it not just for the fans but for them.”
Two songs on the disc, “Storm” and “Gifted Hands,” pay tribute to Evans and Powell, respectively.
“[Powell] was a roadie for us, believe it or not, and we got stuck at a show one night. It was a teen dance at a school, and we waited to load the equipment in the truck because it was raining real hard. So he just sat down at this piano that was in the gym where we played and said, ‘If I was to play ‘Free Bird,’ I’d play it like this,’ and he started playing all the beautiful stuff the way he had made it up; he was a classical piano player. So we fired him that night and hired him,” Rossington said.
Lynyrd Skynyrd — Rossington, lead singer Johnny Van Zant, guitarist Rickey Medlocke, guitarist Mark Matejka, bassist Robert Kearns, keyboardist Peter Keys and drummer Michael Cartellone — will play June 24 at DTE Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston, Mich., and July 8 at Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls. Both shows start at 7 p.m. and will feature Bret Michaels and .38 Special. Tickets range from $22 to $65.50.
Odds are fans will hear the new song, “Skynyrd Nation.”
“Every time we look out playing live shows, there are two or three generations out there — there’s older people and their kids and then some of their kids,” Rossington said. “It’s like a ‘Skynyrd Nation ’… You pull up and people are making hot dogs and throwing footballs and playing and having barbecue tailgate parties and then they come into the show.”
Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, Lynyrd Skynyrd has sold 28 million records, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Saturday Night Special” and “Gimme Three Steps” are still staples on classic rock radio.
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