“It’s a tribute band right now, and everybody knows it’s not the original,” the guitarist explained to Rolling Stone. “Everybody who comes to see us is told that during the show, and probably knows before they even get there. But people still come to hear it live.”
At every Lynyrd Skynyrd concert, the band honors their deceased former members, including those who died in a tragic 1977 plane crash.
Rossington, now 71, has suffered his own health woes in recent years, including multiple heart procedures. These problems have forced the guitarist to miss many shows, and even at those gigs he’s able to perform, Rossington often sits out a portion of the set, handing guitar duties over to Damon Johnson.
Rossington admitted he goes through “a lot of different emotions” watching Lynyrd Skynyrd from the side of the stage. “The notes are the same, and the songs are the same. It sounds good to me. It sounds like our band,” he explained. “I look out and don’t see the original band — it’s strange. And then I look out and see a replacement for me, which is strange. Just hearing the songs without me playing on ’em live is very strange.”
Despite “101 strange things happening,” the guitarist is ultimately happy Lynyrd Skynyrd’s music still connects with people. “To see the younger people enjoying it makes your heart warm.”
That feeling is one Rossington believes his former bandmates would share. “Me, Allen [Collins] and Ronnie [Van Zant] started this band with a dream of making it big, and that dream came true. They’d love it if their music was still being played when they’re gone.”
Lynyrd Skynyrd announced their farewell tour in 2018, however the pandemic ultimately delayed those plans. Details on when — or if — Skynyrd will retire from the road remain murky.
“In a couple of years it’s supposed to possibly stop, and maybe it won’t,” Rossington noted. “I just don’t know, because who can predict the future? We’ll decide then what’s really going to happen.”
Lynyrd Skynyrd Albums Ranked
From the classic lineup to the reunion era, we rank Skynyrd’s LPs from worst to best.