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Interview:
Lynyrd Skynyrd Remembers Late Members On New Live Album
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

Lynyrd Skynyrd has certainly released its share of live albums during the Southern rock group’s 37-year recording career. But the new “Live From Freedom Hall” is a bit more sentimental than its predecessors.

The 15-song CD/DVD set hails from a June 2007 show in Louisville, Ky., and marks something of a tribute to Billy Powell, keyboardist since 1972, and bassist Ean Evans, who both passed away in 2009. “We said, ‘Let’s put this out for Billy and Ean, ‘cause that’s really the last (taped) live thing we did with them,” explains singer Johnny Van Zant. “So of course we wanted to put it out with our fans.

“It’s hard, but it’s also gratifying, too. I know if the shoe had been on the other foot, if it had been me gone, I would have hoped someone would put this out ’cause we all dug the show and thought it came off really well. I know our fans would surely want to have this in their collection of Skynyrd stuff.”

Facing mortality, of course, is nothing new to the Skynyrd nation. The group, after all, was dormant for a decade after the 1977 plane crash that took the lives of three members — including Van Zant’s older brother and Skynyrd founder Ronnie Van Zant. The group has shown remarkable durability and remains active — including a new studio album, “God & Guns,” last year with more to come, Johnny Van Zant promises — but the frontman does envision one scenario that will cause Skynyrd to hang up its stars ‘n’ bars forever.

“I think if anything happens to (founding guitarist) Gary Rossington, it would probably be the end of the band, definitely,” Van Zant, 51, says. “He’s really the last founding member, although I’ve been here for 23 years and ... a lot of us who are in the band now have been here longer than the original band was together.

“But there’s a few more turnips and collard greens we want to turn before we’re through. There’s things that we still want to do with this band, so let’s hope nothing happens any time soon.”



Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bret Michaels and .38 Special perform at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 24, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Clarkston. Tickets are $39.50-59.50 pavilion, $25 lawn with a $99 lawn six-pack. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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