Lynyrd Skynyrd Guitarist Says "Free Bird" Feels Like Part Of His Religion

 
 

While the incessant shouts for "Free Bird" can grow a little tiring, members of Lynyrd Skynyrd say they're still not tired of playing their band's most iconic song.

Playing the hits in concert has never been a question for Skynyrd, but guitarist Ricky Medlocke says fans still ask the band during pre-show meet-and-greets to assure them the song is in that evening's set. It always is.

Medlocke was in the band briefly in the early-'70s, then rejoined in 1996; in the last 23 years, he's probably played "Free Bird" as much as any living human being. He tells Q104.3 New York's Jim Kerr and Shelli Sonstein that he's still amazed by the energy that song creates in concert.

There's nothing like what happens in the audience when frontman Johnny Van Zant hangs his late-brother Ronnie's hat on the mic stand during the song, Medlocke says.

"The whole third verse and chorus is Ronnie on the screen, singing with the band," Medlocke says. "I have seen grown men in the audience weeping. It's a very powerful thing. The way it is, [co-founding Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington] and I are standing right at the microphone stand with the lights on it. I've got pictures from it and I've got one special one in my house...where you can see Gary and I looking at each other with the hat in there with the lights down on it. It's almost religious to me."

"It's a very special moment," he added. "I get chills from it every night."

Skynyrd is now in the second year of its 'Last of the Street Survivors' farewell tour. The band doesn't have a definite date for when the tour will be over, but Van Zant and Medlocke think they will probably take their final bows late next year.

A concert film chronicling one particularly special show from the tour is coming to select theaters in 22 cities on November 7. Find a screening near you here.

Lynyrd Skynyrd: Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour includes interviews with the band as well as Skynyrd's 2018 concert in its hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, when the band performed for 55,000 fans.

Watch the full interview in the player above. Get all Lynyrd Skynyrd's tour dates here.

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