Johnny Van Zant Explains The Family Dynamic That Keeps Skynyrd Strong & Rockin’ On

Manuel Nauta via

Any time a group has been around as long as Lynyrd Skynyrd, it’s basically inevitable that they will someday have to cope with the loss of one of their own. But for Skynyrd, their history has been filled with tragedy and loss. 

In 1977, a plane crash claimed the lives of lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and background singer Cassie Gaines. But Skynyrd didn’t let that tragedy hold them back. In 1987 they reunited, and many of the old members joined the band once again.

Skynyrd’s been going strong ever since, but they’ve had to cope with the loss of several more of their bandmates over time, including bass player Leon Wilkeson and keyboardist Billy Powell. Despite all of the loss they’ve experienced, Skynyrd continues to push through and create rockin’ music for their fans.

During an interview in 2009, current lead singer Johnny Van Zant was asked what keeps Skynyrd going on after loosing so many of their bandmates. His response had everything to do with the fact that above all else, Skynyrd is a family unit:

“We’re a big family. You take any big family, in probably the last twenty two years they’ve lost…since I’ve been in the band, we’ve lost four people…you know what, families don’t stop livin’. You know what, we’ve gotta keep going on. This is what we do.” 

All in all, Johnny said that loss is simply a part of life. The key is to not let it take you down, but to use it to become stronger, just as Skynyrd has done.

If you live long enough a good, fruitful life, nine times out of ten you’re gonna experience some tragedy…but I think it makes you better people,” he said.

We would have to agree with Johnny on that one. You can watch his full interview in the clip below, during which guitarists Gary Rossington and Rickey Medlocke also talk about how they overcame loss.

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd & Second Helping Live’ is available now on DVD, Blu-ray and digital formats – it’s the perfect gift for the Lynyrd Skynyrd fan in your life. Buy it here on Amazon!

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