Lynyrd Skynyrd

At Azkena they’ll love the governors

Nationality: US

Genre: Southern rock


It has been scientifically proven that every single pub rock band includes a cover of Sweet Home Alabama somewhere in their set. Just why this should be is a mystery, because it is not even nearly the greatest rock song ever written. It is also scientifically proven that very few pub rock bands include a cover of Free Bird in their set, despite the fact that it is a very strong contender to be the greatest rock song ever written. I guess the difference is that while anybody who can bang out a chord or two can produce a more or less decent rendition of SHA, copying the solo that takes up roughly the last three hours of Free Bird is a bit trickier.

Both songs were of course the work of possibly the longest non-Welsh band name not to include a single vowel. And here they are at Azkena Rock. Living legends of all-American rock.

Well, they’re not really. It’s more Lynyrd Skynyrd in name and spirit. Of course, the real Lynyrd Skynyrd ceased to exist in 1977 when their plane crashed in Mississippi and both lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and lead guitarist Steve Gaines were among those that died.

Ten years later, the survivors gathered for a Reunion Tour, with Ronnie’s younger brother Johnny taking over vocal duties. What was originally a one-off event has now become an ongoing thing, which raised the ire of the widows of the two deceased members. Those two now receive 40% of all income from the band’s tours and recordings, and there is also a clause that they can only use the Lynyrd Skynyrd name if at least two of the pre-1977 members are on the line-up. Guitarist Gary Rossington, who has been a member since the band formed 48 years ago, honours part of that agreement, as did keyboardist Billy Powell until he died in 2009.

As luck would have it, Rickey Medlocke, the guitarist who joined the band in 1996, also did a very brief stint as drummer back in 1970, and therefore the two-member clause still holds. Just. All told, this is about as close to the original Lynyrd Skynyrd as you’re going to get these days – but be honest, if you hadn’t read all this here, most of you would never have noticed anyway. Just enjoy them at Azkena – they’ll be one of the hottest acts of the weekend.

Did you know: The song Sweet Home Alabama has been accused of being racist. Essentially this boils down to the line “I hope Neil Young will remember, a Southern man don’t need him around,” believed to be in response to Young’s songs about southern racism, further supported by the line that “in Birmingham they love the governor” in reference to Governor Wallace who was in favour of segregation (i.e. apartheid).  Lynyrd Skynyrd are Neil Young were actually good friends and even worked together from time to time. The whole thing was actually taken horribly out of context, and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s true message was lost on an American public that hasn’t always been too good at picking up the nuances of subtlety and irony.


Saturday June 16 Vitoria Azkena Rock Festival GET TICKETS HERE


1.  Workin’ For MCA

2.  I Ain’t The One

3.  Skynyrd Nation

4.  What’s Your Name

5.  Down South Jukin’

6.  That Smell

7.  I Know A Little

8.  Simple Man

9.  T For Texas

10.  Gimme Three Steps

11.  Call Me The Breeze

12.  Sweet Home Alabama

Encore:  13.  Free Bird


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