RICKEY MEDLOCKE Opens Up About Lifelong Battle With Pulmonary Fibrosis: 'Doctors Said I Wouldn't Live To See 14 Years Of Age'

May 6, 2024

In a new interview with Guido Piraino of The Monthly Social, Rickey Medlocke, who played drums in LYNYRD SKYNYRD in 1970-71 before leaving to lead his own band BLACKFOOT and coming back to SKYNYRD as a guitarist in 1996, spoke about his lifelong battle with a serious lung disease that causes lung scarring and shortness of breath. He said in part (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "It's not widely known, but it has kind of leaked out in the last dozen or so years, I have a respiratory illness called pulmonary fibrosis, which when I joined SKYNYRD to play drums, that's very challenging. But I've been able to do certain things and take certain steps in my life with health to really stay on top of it… But I had a pretty serious operation when I was about nine and a half. They took part of my lung, and — basically all of one — and doctors basically said I wouldn't live to see 14 years of age. And now all of a sudden I'm 74 and I went, okay, I guess I beat that one. [Laughs] So much for what doctors [say]."

LYNYRD SKYNYRD has been celebrating the 50th anniversary of the band's critically acclaimed debut album "Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd", which included the hit song "Free Bird".

Gary Rossington, guitarist and sole remaining founding member of LYNYRD SKYNYRD, passed away in March 2023 at the age of 72 at home in Milton, Georgia after a long history of heart-related diseases. SKYNYRD has continued without him, as per Rossington's wishes, with Medlocke and frontman Johnny Van Zant — younger brother of original SKYNYRD singer Ronnie Van Zant — leading the way.

After four SKYNYRD members were killed in an October 1977 plane crash, Rossington recruited Johnny to fill his brother's shoes a decade later.

To celebrate SKYNYRD's 50th anniversary, Geffen/UMe Recordings released the "FYFTY" box set last October. The career-spanning 50 tracks featured on "FYFTY" represent all eras of LYNYRD SKYNYRD. Included is a special performance of "Gimme Three Steps", a previously unreleased live track that was culled from the band's final show with Rossington in November 2022.

SKYNYRD has sold more than 28 million records in the U.S. during the past 50 years — including 13 platinum or better — and it has produced such classic songs as the aforementioned "Free Bird", "Sweet Home Alabama", "Gimme Three Steps" and "What's Your Name".

Rolling Stone included the group on its "100 Greatest Artists Of All Time" list, and SKYNYRD was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2006.

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