The band are well-remembered for the 1977 plane crash which killed singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and backing singer Cassie Gaines and three others on board.
Now 2009 has seen the band facing up to more tragedy, with keyboardist Billy Powell dying of a suspected heart attack in January and bassist Ean Evans dying of cancer last month.
Medlocke, who played drums with Skynyrd in 1970 then returned as guitarist in 1996, says the band weren’t sure about whether to keep going. But with new album God & Guns set for release in the autumn they finally made the decision to continue.
He says: “We really were at another crossroads, wondering what we should do. We’re one big family. We spend so much time on the road together. When you get to be that close you take things heart. When you lose somebody you can’t help but step back and think, ‘How much longer do we want to continue losing people like this?’
“We really were at another crossroads, wondering what we should do here.
“We’re rock musicians, you know? We were born to play music and that’s what we should be doing. They would want us to carry on and do the best we can.
“So we’ve got Robert Kearns on bass and Peter Keys on keyboards now, and we’re really looking forward to the album coming out. People are saying it’s the strongest thing we’ve done in years.”
Medlocke also discusses the “great honor” of being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 2003, and meeting Queen’s Brian May at the ceremony.
He says: “Brian came up to me after we played Free Bird and the first words out of his mouth were, ‘I want to see the hands that just played Free Bird’. I said, ‘The hell with that – I want to see the hands that played all the stuff with Queen!’
“Later on when I went to see him with Paul Rodgers in Queen, he said he had something for me – and he shipped me over one of his guitars. I found that to be a great honour from a great guitar player.”
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