Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lynyrd Skynyrd Guitarist Rickey Medlocke : "We're Not A Tribute Band"

In an interview with the San Jose Mercury News, Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Rickey Medlocke spoke about the version of the Southern rock band that’s touring and recording these days. "A lot of people say, ‘Don’t you ever feel like you’re really a tribute band?’ No, I don’t. I think that as long as Gary [Rossington] and myself and Johnny [Van Zant] are there, it’s always going to be Lynyrd Skynyrd," Medlocke said. "But I do like to think that we’re giving tribute to the guys that have gone before us."

Medlocke has a long history with Lynyrd Skynyrd. He first joined the band in 1970, but not as a guitarist. "I was needing to make a change at the time," he said. "I called up Ronnie [Van Zant] and said, ‘Do you need a crew guy or somebody to set up equipment or whatever?’ And he said, Do you still play drums?’ I knew how to play drums, but I hadn’t messed with them in years. But in order to have a gig, I kind of BS’ed him and said, ‘Yeah, I still know how to play."

He left the band after about a year, because he didn’t think he was a good enough drummer for the band. He went on to form Blackfoot, where he served as singer and guitarist, but remained good friends with the Skynyrd gang. He said he could have been on the plane that killed some of the band’s key members in 1977.

"I was invited to go travel with the guys for like a week," Medlocke said. "But I got bookings with my band and I couldn’t make it. So therefore, things worked out the way they did. It was too bad that the band was cut down at a time when it was. Who knows how much further that band could have gotten? They were going to headline Madison Square Garden for the first time, which they had always wanted to do. But it was something that just wasn’t meant to be."

When the band reunited in the ’90s, founding member Rossington asked Medlocke to join, this time as a guitarist and songwriter. He’s been part of the group ever since.

"I think that amongst everything that has happened, it brings us together closer," he said. "And the music brings us closer together. Music is a healing tool."

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