Lynyrd Skynyrd's Rickey Medlocke on Flying the Confederate Flag: "It's Not About Hatred. We Don't Preach That"
|Lynyrd Skynyrd today: Not just whistling DIxie anymore|
Sadly, the band's early upward trajectory ground to a halt with the tragic plane crash that killed original band members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and Cassie Gaines on October 20, 1977. Though this effectively ended the first and most indelible phase of their career, in the late eighties, the band regrouped. Skynyrd came spiraling back. They're currently promoting Last of the Dyin' Breed, their new album, which will bring them to Hard Rock Live on October 25.
Guitarist Rickey Medlocke, an early member of the group prior to their big breakthrough spoke with us from his home in Melbourne about, among other things, the recent controversy surrounding their embrace of the Confederate flag.
New Times: Why do think Lynyrd Skynyrd has been able to maintain its momentum all these very many years?
Rickey Medlocke: I really believe that we pride ourselves on consistency. I think the biggest element has to do with the material. I think that the band has got legendary songs that will be here a lot longer after we're gone. Great songs, magical tunes. And for me personally, the group emerged at a time when legends were built and many groups became arena rock bands. It was a different age and a different time, and I think people love to relive that. Plus, their kids want to try to experience it and live some semblance of that. It's just built from that.
Why do you think Jacksonville was such a prolific spawning ground for so many bands back in the day?
Well, people always ask me that, and I say, maybe it was something in the water. Seriously, I think one of the reasons is that Jacksonville was a very transient city. You had the shipyards there, you had the naval bases there, Anheuser Busch was there... My grandfather, Shorty, who wrote the Blackfoot song "Train Train," he was a musician in and out of Nashville, and he played with a lot of bands and a lot of older musicians in and around Jacksonville. And they had kids, and those kids ended up being born with talent and, hey, you've got it!
So who makes up your audiences these days? We have three generations of fans that come out and see us play, ages anywhere from 15 to 75, and the majority of those are in their late teens through their early 30s. It's amazing, because they've heard about this band, they've seen it maybe on television and heard the music all over the radio and it strikes their curiosity. We come out and play and they know we're having a good time doing what we're doing.