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Author: Subject: Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Gary Rossington Talks Les Pauls, Slide Guitar, New Album

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  posted on 8/2/2012 at 07:28 PM
The legendary Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 35-year history includes more than its share of tragic losses and personnel changes, but the one constant has been guitarist Gary Rossington, a dyed-in-the-wool Gibson Les Paul Standard player whose beefy tone and silken slide remains at the core of the group’s six-string signature.

Over the years Rossington has crafted classic guitar lines like the slide introduction to “Free Bird” and the brawny blend of feedback and overtones in “That Smell.” And he continues to create masterful parts and brass-knuckled solos after 21 live and studio Skynyrd recordings, including the soon-to-be-released Last of a Dyin’ Breed.

Recorded at Nashville’s Blackbird Studio, the album features Skynyrd’s current three-guitar line up of Rossington, Rickey Medlocke (who once led hard-core Southern rockers Blackfoot) and Mark Matejka. The tunes range from the defiant, blues simmered title track to the sweet ’n’ poignant ballad “Ready to Fly” to the blues-rock anthem “Mississippi Blood” to the inspirational closer “Start Livin’ Life Again,” which features dobro virtuoso Jerry Douglas. The disc also marks the debut of new bassist Johnny Colt, an original member of the Black Crowes.

When Rossington picks up the phone at his home in rural Georgia, he’s just returned from a European tour with Lynyrd Skynyrd and is getting ready to bring the new music on Last of a Dyin’ Breed to the group’s stateside fans through this summer and fall.

Are you trying to make a statement in titling the new album Last of a Dyin’ Breed?

We all had a hand in co-writing that song. There are not a lot of bands out there these days touring and on the radio and on television that are real gritty and started out as a bunch of guys in the garage trying to find their sound. Those bands don’t get opportunities anymore. All you see are pop acts and dance acts and acts that make singles, not great albums. Rock ’n’ roll bands are kind of a dyin’ breed these days.

It’s kind of too bad there aren’t any more great rock or blues bands comin’ up. Where’s a new generation of people like Keith Richards? It’s a different culture now. Nobody does solos anymore. I like the old stuff. In the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, people would stretch out and take solos.

What guitars did you use on this album?

I always use my ’59 reissue Les Pauls. I’ve got one that’s a sunburst and one in black that I play slide on. I’ve got the action a little higher on that and the strings a little lighter, so it’s dirtier. As usual, I just played all Gibson Les Pauls and I left the other models of guitars to the other guys for contrast.

I love Les Pauls. Most of the time I use standard tuning for slide. Early on, we didn’t have the time to change tunings on stage, plus I only had one guitar back then, so I learned to play slide in standard. But I like to play in open E a lot. I use that on this CD a lot, and open G. Duane Allman was real fond of open E and played it great, and he was a big influence on all of us. We were still teenagers when we’d go to see the Allman Brothers. When I first heard Duane he was tuned to open E and I didn’t know what the hell he was doing until I discovered open tunings for myself.

I use a Marshall and I still use a Peavey Mace in the studio. I have a signature amp for myself that’s kind of like the old Peavey Mace, which they don’t make anymore. Back in the ’70s I started playing the Mace. We all got a Peavey amp endorsement back then, and until that time we were playing Marshalls. When we would do sound checks, one of us would always go to the back of the hall and listen. Often the Marshalls would sound tinny way out in the halls, but the Peaveys kept the balls in the bass more, so we switched. But nowadays all the good amps sounds about the same. If you’ve got tube and analog gear, it’s all gonna sound warm and good.

How do you keep it fresh after 35 years in Lynyrd Skynyrd?

It’s always fresh because we have different crowds and when we see these faces we’re making happy every night… There’s a lot of mood at one of our shows. People have big feelings about some of our songs that they’ve grown up hearing. They’ve been played at weddings and funerals and parties… It’s like when I go to a Rolling Stones show and hear all their songs that have been part of my life. It’s the people and their excitement that keep it new. Sometimes we try to play the songs people really know note for note, but we try to keep a song or two that’s new in every set to surprise people and let them know we’ve got somethin’ left to prove, too. And of course we make new albums, which we always enjoy and hope the people do, too.

You decided to record old school, live in the studio?

We went in the way we used to in the old days – the way we recorded the first three or four Lynyrd Skynyrd albums. Everybody learned the parts and we went in and set up and played live. We overdubbed a little bit of vocals and guitar here and there. It was fun. We even did the solos live. All three guitars, drums and bass would just go for it, and Johnny [Van Zandt] sang as we played. Anything that wasn’t right we’d just touch up with an overdub. It’s easier and more real that way for us.

With three guitarists, how do you map out the arrangements for the guitars?

We’re known as a guitar band, we like big sounds, and we’ve got three guitars, so there’s a lot to play to and off of. It’s really cool. Whoever’s style fits the song best plays the solo. In the old days Allen Collins would play all the fast and frantic parts, because he was good at that. But if it was something like “Simple Man,” slow and mellow, I’d take it. I play slide on a lot of this album and live, but all three of us play slide in the band. I just happened to do it on this CD.


That slide at the start of the album, on “Last of a Dyin’ Breed,” that’s me. I was just messing around, warming up, and they recorded it and it became the introduction. I love playing slide. Old blues is my favorite style of music. We were all raised on old blues, country, rock ’n’ roll and the British thing, but old blues is really what I love to listen to.

We admired John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers a lot. We did some of their songs and Cream when we were first starting out. Also some of the stuff Clapton did before he joined John Mayall, in the Yardbirds. That’s music we loved and were influenced by a lot.

What compelled you to start playing slide?

Back in the day when the band had just started, Duane Allman influenced us a lot. We used to go hear the Allmans in parks and “be-in’s” and “love-in’s”… that’s what they called it in the ’60s. And there was a guy in Canned Heat called Blind Owl [Al Wilson] that used to play slide who was really cool. And Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones recorded slide a few times, and we always used to hear old blues cats playing it. I loved it, so I picked it up. I try to use it to play melodies and make the songs sing a little bit.

How long have you been playing guitar?

I was 14 or 15 when I heard The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, like all the other guys who started garage bands. I used to love Elvis, too. My mama said I used to stand in front of my mirror with a broom and pretend I was Elvis. And I taught myself, after hearing The Beatles and the British blues things.

How do you think your playing has evolved over the years?

Honestly, I don’t think it has, much. I’ve gotten a little better and I know more. And the songs, we play ’em so much that I’m always in my comfort zone. What I aim to do is just play my own style and don’t listen to what a lot of other players do. I like to play when I want to play and what I want to hear. The most important thing is having a different style. Everybody can learn somebody else’s licks, but to have your own style and voice as a player is best. That’s what grabs people’s attention.

How has Johnny Colt joining the band affected the sound?

He has a lot of energy. He’s a great bass player. He plays all the songs the way we used to do ’em, just like Leon [Wilkerson, Skynyrd’s original bassist], who was a big influence on Johnny when he was coming up. He is a real high energy guy and smart and interesting. We’re all kind of wild and crazy, so we all fit in together really good.


 
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Peach Master



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  posted on 8/2/2012 at 09:20 PM
I am a huge Skynyrd fan and always give their new material a shot. Few if any of the newer tunes and singing quite match the original greatness, but you can't find much new Southern Rock goodness out there today so I will continue to give anything they put out a listen or two.

 

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  posted on 8/2/2012 at 10:30 PM
So, I have this new channel on my sat. system...."AXS"......and I'm surfing last night when lo and behold...this network is showing a Synyrd concert that appeared to be filmed for TV...So, I leave it there and give most of "Gimme three steps" a listen and viewing......and phew. I'll say this, nicely choreographed....played pretty much like the recorded version and to their credit, played credibly...

What caught my eye was all of the laughing, smiling and pointing to the crowd each and every band member was doing during the song...it seemed so ....contrived, so phony....

As I said, I only caught a few minutes.....

 

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  posted on 8/2/2012 at 11:50 PM
Title track from new CD:
http://youtu.be/rLYUpZb9T7s

 

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  posted on 8/3/2012 at 02:01 AM
Sounds like a contrived p.o.s. to me. im sure Ronnie would have wanted it that way.

 

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  posted on 8/3/2012 at 06:56 AM
I keep holding out for some of these bands from this era who still put out music that when they do release one it's gonna be really good and kinda hark back to the good old days............but most of the times it does not happen.

 

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  posted on 8/3/2012 at 08:30 AM
Medlocky is not an original member. That leaves Gary. I know they had a deal where the original members estates got a cut from every show. Not sure if thats a good thing or a bad thing since I havent listened to them in years.
 

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  posted on 8/3/2012 at 08:34 AM
quote:
I keep holding out for some of these bands from this era who still put out music that when they do release one it's gonna be really good and kinda hark back to the good old days............but most of the times it does not happen.


Dreamer.

Like athletes, the classic bands are well past their prime and often not much creatively left in the tank. There is always the occasional return to form but rare and short lived. HTN was a great album but without Warren it never happens. That is why another is not likely to happen and even then Warren has hit a point where his "great" material is drying up. Still love him and the various lineups and hope to see him till I die but I don't think you can even compare any Mule album with the first three. At least IMO and I am sure that many feel the same. Still enjoy the newer albums but they don't match up.

Jimmy Page gets mentioned often and he is an example of a guy that doesn't want things released if not up to his high expectations of himself. He would not even match the Firm, let alone any Zeppelin release.

That is why so many older artists do cover albums as it relieves them from having to write material.

Rod Stewart became Barry Manilow and does all these albums classic songs that our parents and grandparents loved. The albums far out sell any album of originals that Rod would put out. I can't stand the albums but hard to argue with success.

Athletes get to retire and always want back in. Musicians never retire, they just play smaller places and their sales decline. Support them and all the local musicians that never made it that far.

People often want an album but don't see the whole picture. Sales are so low on most releases that it is embarrassing and costly for some.

I don't think that the Cult's latest album has even hit 1000 sales in the US yet for instance. I forget others and don't have the names in front of me but a buddy sent me a list of releases and their sales. Many classic acts with recent releases that have sales ranging from 500 to 3000 in the US. Bands that used to sell millions. The companies are hurting and as always will take no risks leaving the debt/cost to the band. This was always how it was done but the difference now is that the bands can't recoup the losses through touring so the companies have no interest.

 

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  posted on 8/3/2012 at 09:15 AM
"So, I have this new channel on my sat. system...."AXS" '

I discovered this channel recently on my Dish Network as well. I caught a Crosby, Stills, and Nash show about a week ago and a Steve Vai show from 2007 recently as well. I'm hoping to stumble upon a some other artists soon on this channel. The brothers, perhaps? Gov't Mule? Derek Trucks?

 

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  posted on 8/3/2012 at 11:05 AM
quote:
quote:
I keep holding out for some of these bands from this era who still put out music that when they do release one it's gonna be really good and kinda hark back to the good old days............but most of the times it does not happen.


Dreamer.

Like athletes, the classic bands are well past their prime and often not much creatively left in the tank. There is always the occasional return to form but rare and short lived. HTN was a great album but without Warren it never happens. That is why another is not likely to happen and even then Warren has hit a point where his "great" material is drying up. Still love him and the various lineups and hope to see him till I die but I don't think you can even compare any Mule album with the first three. At least IMO and I am sure that many feel the same. Still enjoy the newer albums but they don't match up.

Jimmy Page gets mentioned often and he is an example of a guy that doesn't want things released if not up to his high expectations of himself. He would not even match the Firm, let alone any Zeppelin release.

That is why so many older artists do cover albums as it relieves them from having to write material.

Rod Stewart became Barry Manilow and does all these albums classic songs that our parents and grandparents loved. The albums far out sell any album of originals that Rod would put out. I can't stand the albums but hard to argue with success.

Athletes get to retire and always want back in. Musicians never retire, they just play smaller places and their sales decline. Support them and all the local musicians that never made it that far.

People often want an album but don't see the whole picture. Sales are so low on most releases that it is embarrassing and costly for some.

I don't think that the Cult's latest album has even hit 1000 sales in the US yet for instance. I forget others and don't have the names in front of me but a buddy sent me a list of releases and their sales. Many classic acts with recent releases that have sales ranging from 500 to 3000 in the US. Bands that used to sell millions. The companies are hurting and as always will take no risks leaving the debt/cost to the band. This was always how it was done but the difference now is that the bands can't recoup the losses through touring so the companies have no interest.




yeah I know.....always holding out hope!!!! Just waiting for Ritchie Blackmore
to strap on the old strat one more time and release some chaos!!!

Good post. You are right about the classic artist and the well starting to dry up.
First two Mule are my fav's, the third is not at the top of my list,but still solid.

I like the track off the Deep End. Sins A Good Mans Brother. Nice stuff from
The Woody era.

It's funny you mention the Cult. I remember a few years ago in an article
(can probably find it online) Ian Astburty pretty much said they would never release
any material in an album/cd format again. Well the did. I bought, it's okay, nothing
to rave about. Actually they're last one is better I think, Born into This. That was another I was holding out for. They had a pretty decent run for awhile. Like you
said I'm I dreamer!!

Pretty schocking statement about sales, that is embarrassing!! I knew it was low, but that bad!!
ouch!! Reasons maybe,? material is not as strong,shrunken fan base, not as irrelevant,bad economy,that type of music is not in fashion anymore. I am sure it is probably just cheaper to do it online as downloads.
Most artists have there own studios theses days , and you really dont need that anymore.

[Edited on 8/3/2012 by jszfunk]

 

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  posted on 8/3/2012 at 11:16 AM
That was a good read. Thanks!

 

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  posted on 8/3/2012 at 12:30 PM
quote:
Title track from new CD:
http://youtu.be/rLYUpZb9T7s


terrible

I guess putting the lyrics on the screen allows the Walmart crowd to be able sing along. They can't do anything without referencing Ronnie.

 

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  posted on 8/4/2012 at 07:10 AM
quote:
They can't do anything without referencing Ronnie.


Jus' ridin' that gravy train baby

 

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  posted on 8/4/2012 at 07:13 AM
quote:
quote:
They can't do anything without referencing Ronnie.


Jus' ridin' that gravy train baby



Unfortunately it is happening to another band

 

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  posted on 8/4/2012 at 09:42 AM
quote:
quote:
quote:
They can't do anything without referencing Ronnie.


Jus' ridin' that gravy train baby



Unfortunately it is happening to another band


Who? If your talking the ABB they don't continue to write songs that references Duane on every cd. Also Gregg has had a great solo career something Johnnie could never do.

 

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  posted on 8/4/2012 at 12:25 PM
What's the saying, you can never go back home again? That's the way it is with most of our old bands. Enjoy what they put out in their prime and don't get too revved up about any new stuff.

Also, Rickey Medlocke is an original member. He played drums on a lot of their early demos and maybe a song or two on the first album.

 

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  posted on 8/4/2012 at 12:55 PM
Skynyrd put on a great show last night and pushed the Allmans to react in kind
which, to the audiences benifit, they did. The amphitheater was packed. Nobody
on the lawn left even when it rained. Skynyrd played one tune of the new Cd that
I really liked. Everybody had a great time. Hope that doesn't disappoint some of
y'all here. Well ... let me rephrase that ... I really could care less.

 

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Peach Master



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  posted on 8/4/2012 at 01:13 PM
quote:
Skynyrd put on a great show last night and pushed the Allmans to react in kind
which, to the audiences benifit, they did. The amphitheater was packed. Nobody
on the lawn left even when it rained. Skynyrd played one tune of the new Cd that
I really liked. Everybody had a great time. Hope that doesn't disappoint some of
y'all here. Well ... let me rephrase that ... I really could care less.


Charles, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that these bands don't put on a good show. Just don't expect this Skynyrd lineup to put out another "Pronounced" or "Second Helping".

 

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  posted on 8/4/2012 at 01:48 PM
quote:
quote:
quote:
quote:
They can't do anything without referencing Ronnie.


Jus' ridin' that gravy train baby



Unfortunately it is happening to another band


Who? If your talking the ABB they don't continue to write songs that references Duane on every cd. Also Gregg has had a great solo career something Johnnie could never do.


since 1980 van zant has released 9 albums outside of lynyrd skynyrd and 6 albums with skynyrd for a total of 15 albums. how many albums has gregg released since 1980? 4 solo and 6 with ABB

 

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  posted on 8/4/2012 at 01:58 PM
quote:
quote:
quote:
quote:
quote:
They can't do anything without referencing Ronnie.


Jus' ridin' that gravy train baby



Unfortunately it is happening to another band


Who? If your talking the ABB they don't continue to write songs that references Duane on every cd. Also Gregg has had a great solo career something Johnnie could never do.


since 1980 van zant has released 9 albums outside of lynyrd skynyrd and 6 albums with skynyrd for a total of 15 albums. how many albums has gregg released since 1980? 4 solo and 6 with ABB


QUALITY over quantity

 

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  posted on 8/4/2012 at 02:17 PM
quote:
quote:
quote:
quote:
quote:
quote:
They can't do anything without referencing Ronnie.


Jus' ridin' that gravy train baby



Unfortunately it is happening to another band


Who? If your talking the ABB they don't continue to write songs that references Duane on every cd. Also Gregg has had a great solo career something Johnnie could never do.


since 1980 van zant has released 9 albums outside of lynyrd skynyrd and 6 albums with skynyrd for a total of 15 albums. how many albums has gregg released since 1980? 4 solo and 6 with ABB


QUALITY over quantity


even if you just count the 4 albums he did with donnie as VAN ZANT they are much stronger than what gregg has done by himself since 1980. the last album was pretty much all cover songs. the album I'M NO ANGEL has a song written by michael bolton. on top of that the 2 80's albums have pretty slick production. what quality are you talking about? anyone can pick 10 blues classics, record them and release a good album

 

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  posted on 8/4/2012 at 07:51 PM
quote:
What's the saying, you can never go back home again? That's the way it is with most of our old bands. Enjoy what they put out in their prime and don't get too revved up about any new stuff.

Also, Rickey Medlocke is an original member. He played drums on a lot of their early demos and maybe a song or two on the first album.

Medlocky? OK. I'll give you he was a hanger on in the beginning. But he really should stop trying to cop Allen Collins. Because Allen Collins he ain't. But hey, if it's your thing, I say ignore me and have a good time. Kind of like paying to see Furthur when you've seen the real deal. Not even close.

 

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  posted on 8/4/2012 at 08:29 PM
Yet another well meaning Skynyrd thread that via told & re-told arguments from the same forum members has turned into a Nyw Skynyrd Sux Thread.
Who'd a thought............

Think I might start a thread about the guitar prowess of Ted Nugent.
Wonder how that will turn out?

 

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  posted on 8/4/2012 at 08:34 PM
I think we should consider the real possibilty that the " Nyw Skynyrd Sux".
 

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  posted on 8/4/2012 at 10:36 PM
quote:
quote:
quote:
quote:
quote:
quote:
quote:
They can't do anything without referencing Ronnie.


Jus' ridin' that gravy train baby



Unfortunately it is happening to another band


Who? If your talking the ABB they don't continue to write songs that references Duane on every cd. Also Gregg has had a great solo career something Johnnie could never do.


since 1980 van zant has released 9 albums outside of lynyrd skynyrd and 6 albums with skynyrd for a total of 15 albums. how many albums has gregg released since 1980? 4 solo and 6 with ABB


QUALITY over quantity


even if you just count the 4 albums he did with donnie as VAN ZANT they are much stronger than what gregg has done by himself since 1980. the last album was pretty much all cover songs. the album I'M NO ANGEL has a song written by michael bolton. on top of that the 2 80's albums have pretty slick production. what quality are you talking about? anyone can pick 10 blues classics, record them and release a good album


I'll take Search For Simplicity with jack over all their albums since then. Gregg included.

There is the quality.

Some will like LS and some won't. I know ABB fans that don't accept the current lineup too.

 

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