Gary Rossington: Last of A Dyin’ Breed
Life is good for Gary Rossington.
The Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist recently celebrated his 60th birthday and his 30th wedding anniversary.
“I love it,” Rossington said of turning 60. “I never thought I would live to be this old when I was younger. I feel like I’m 21 in my mind. It feels good to keep going and I feel fortunate to have made it this long.”
Rossington, a simple southern man, is a founding member of Skynyrd and the only original member that still tours with the band. He keeps himself young, playing good ol’ fashioned Southern rock.
“I walk and work out a little bit and keep on rocking,” he said. “I think that keeps you young and seeing young people having a good time.”
Lynyrd Skynyrd began its world tour in April and release a new album, Last of A Dyin’ Breed earlier this month.
The present-day lineup consists of the guitar trio of Rossington, Rickey Medlocke and Mark Matejka, vocalist Johnny Van Zant, bassist Johnny Colt, drummer Michael Cartellone, keyboardist Peter Pisarczyk and backup vocalists Dale Krantz-Rossington and Carol Chase.
Skynyrd, which began in 1964, disbanded in 1977 but reformed in 1987.
“We’re a big family now, like the original guys,” Rossington said. “We’ve been together longer than the original band. Everybody loves it and tries to represent them good, do the music good, talk about them and keep the name alive.”
Jambands.com caught up with Rossington during a tour stop in Iowa.
You’re the only founding member of the band still touring, what keeps you going?
I just want to keep it going and keep playing with the guys we got now and spread the word of Skynyrd and bring the songs that Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, me and everybody wrote back in the ’70s with the original band—and just kind of tell the story and keep their names alive and the name of the band alive.
What does it mean to you on a personal level to be only original member of the band and represent the glory of the past?
It’s just something I want to do and can do and I just feel real strong about—playing the songs and doing interviews like this one today. It’s about everything—telling about the old guys in the band and of course, we still create. We’re songwriters, so we like to do a new album every few years just to get it out. But it’s still about the original band and everything that was and still is going on.
How have you evolved as a guitar player?
I just keep playing as a good as I can and keep practicing and learning new things. I just try to keep my own style and do what we’re doing for 45 years now.
How would you describe your playing?
It’s pretty simple. I like try to think that I have my own style because I can’t really play like anyone else very well. I try to play like other people, it just doesn’t work too good I guess. I just try to play like me and try to do it the best I can. Even though we’ve played the same songs for a long time, we try to play them as best and perfect we can every night and do it for the people who might only see us once and or never did get to see us or really know about us.
Have you ever thought about writing an autobiography?
I was asked a couple times but nothing came about. If anyone wants to do a book, let them to come me. I’ll do it. I just need someone else to write it because I don’t write too good.
Forty-five years in the industry, you must have some great stories?
You can’t help but to have a bunch of stories. Crazy and wild things have happened through the years when you’re in the business so long. I’ve seen a lot.