Beyond the tragedy, the history, the raging guitars and the killer songs, ultimately, Lynyrd Skynyrd is about an indomitable will. About survival of spirit; unbowed, uniquely American, stubbornly resolute.
With their first set of new studio material since 2003s Vicious Cycle, legendary rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd returns with God & Guns, due out September 29 on Loud & Proud/Roadrunner Records. Recorded in Nashville in 2008-2009, the project was interruptedbut, tellingly, not endedby the deaths of founding member/keyboardist Billy Powell and longtime bassist Ean Evans earlier this year.
Driven by core members Gary Rossington (guitar), Johnny Van Zant (vocals) and Rickey Medlocke (guitar), along with longtime drummer Michael Cartellone, Lynyrd Skynyrd have recorded an album ("under duress, as usual," according to Van Zant) that very much lives up to the legacy begun some 35 years ago in Jacksonville, Florida, and halted for a decade by the 1977 plane crash that killed three band members, including Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines. Since then, the band tragically lost Allen Collins, Leon Wilkeson and Huey Thomasson, yet they rock on.
With the passing of Powell and Evans, "a lot of people probably expected us to say enough is enough," admits Medlocke. But that would not be the way of this Rock & Roll Hall of Fame powerhouse. With a catalog of over 60 albums and sales beyond 30 million, Lynyrd Skynyrd remains a cultural icon that appeals to all generations, and God & Guns is a fitting addition to the canon. The Skynyrd Nation awaits.
"We wanted to show the people that not only are we doing the old material, keeping the music going, but we still have some new tricks up our sleeves, too," says founding guitarist Gary Rossington.
Returning to the studio after the death of Powell, whose keyboards can be heard on more than half the songs on God & Guns, was "very difficult, I aint gonna lie to you," says Van Zant. "But we got through it, as Lynyrd Skynyrd seems to always do. Musics a great healer. These songs needed to be out there, this record needed to be made. Gary, Rickey and myself just said lets go for it, lets get this thing done."
Unfortunately, coping with loss is familiar to this band. "We just kind of fell back in," says Rossington. "Weve been doing this a long time, so you just kind of do what you do. As you get older, you get a little more used to it. You know its coming, and its coming to you, too. I just thank God for every day and all the time I had with the guys that arent with us anymore."