Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Lynyrd Skynyrd Survives

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Lynyrd Skynyrd Survives

Article excerpt

Today's Lynyrd Skynyrd includes only one musician - guitarist Gary Rossington - who was with the original band and played on all five studio albums that preceded the 1977 plane crash that claimed the lives of singer and primary songwriter Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and backup singer (and Gaines' sister) Cassie Gaines.

Guitarist Ed King left Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1996, nine years after the band reformed in 1987. Drummer Artimus Pyle left in 1991 and the other members who rejoined the new Skynyrd - guitarist Allen Collins, bassist Leon Wilkeson and keyboardist Billy Powell - have died.

So in a way, it's tempting to view today's Skynyrd as a band that is its own entity, and really can't be considered to have that much of a direct line back to the 1970s-era original.

But Rossington doesn't view it that way - he considers today's group a continuation of what the original band started. With the new Skynyrd CD, "Last Of A Dyin' Breed" (released in August), he can say that Skynyrd took another step to further that connection to the original group. In a word, Lynyrd Skynyrd went back to the way the band used to make records.

"We wanted to go back to the original roots of the old band, write a song and then figure out, everybody have their own part to fill in and play it all together (in the studio) like we used to," Rossington said in a phone interview. "The only things we came back and overdubbed were some vocals and lead guitar here and there. Even the keyboards were live. We just went out and played it all together. It feels better that way and it feels like the older records we did, and the older style of the songs."

Rossington said the last album Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded primarily live in the studio was "Street Survivors," the 1977 CD finished shortly before the tragic plane crash.

"It was stuff like we used to do, rehearse a little bit and then cut it," he said. "It was a great way to cut it. It was a fun album to do. Most of the time (making) albums isn't fun, but this one was."

What took the fun out of Lynyrd Skynyrd's previous album, the 2009 release "God & Guns," were the deaths during that project of Powell and Ean Evans, the band's bassist from 2001 to 2009. …

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