LYNYRD SKYNYRD's Johnny Van Zant spoke to Goldmine for the band's cover feature in the magazine's fall 2023 issue. In the interview, the vocalist — who is the younger brother of original LYNYRD singer Ronnie Van Zant — explained the significance of continuing the SKYNYRD legacy after founding guitarist Gary Rossington's passing in March 2023.
Asked if there will be a new LYNYRD SKYNYRD studio album in the near future, Johnny said: "We had all intentions of going in and making a record and doing it with Gary. But he got sick and so it just never happened. But there are songs out there that we could record in his honor. So who knows? We'll see what happens in the future."
If a new LYNYRD SKYNYRD album materializes, it will be the group's first since 2012's "Last Of A Dyin' Breed". The band released a single, "Last Of The Street Survivors", in 2020.
"Last Of The Street Survivors" — which shares its name with what was the time of the song's release supposed to be LYNYRD SKYNYRD's farewell tour — was penned by Rossington alongside Van Zant, guitarist Ricky Medlocke and songwriter Tom Hambridge, and found the Southern rockers reminiscing about their career and the bandmates they lost.
After four SKYNYRD members were killed in an October 1977 plane crash, Rossington recruited Johnny to fill his brother's shoes a decade later.
Medlocke, who played drums in SKYNYRD in 1970-71 before leaving to lead his own band BLACKFOOT and coming back to SKYNYRD in 1996, defended LYNYRD SKYNYRD's decision to carry on, telling Cleveland.com this past May: "People have beat us up over the years: 'Ah, you guys ain't nothin' but a freakin' tribute band' and blah, blah, blah.
"There's a lot of tribute bands out there to LYNYRD SKYNYRD, but none of them holds it as dear to their hearts as the guys who have been there as long as we have," he explained. "We have the history; I played on the first (recording) sessions. We just know that we have to portray the music with the integrity and the sound and the love as close as we can to when it was originally created."
Rossington was the last surviving founding member of LYNYRD SKYNYRD. On March 5, his bandmates announced the news of his death in a statement shared on their social media.
The guitarist had previously dealt with various heart problems throughout the years, including emergency heart surgery in 2021.
LYNYRD SKYNYRD's co-headlining tour with ZZ TOP, "Sharp Dressed Simple Man", staged performances in North America this summer, with special guest UNCLE KRACKER. Produced by Live Nation, the tour kicked off on July 21 at iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach, Florida and wrapped in Camden, New Jersey at Freedom Mortgage Pavilion on September 17.