Lynyrd Skynyrd have issued a statement to announce that they will be "continuing to perform LIVE, and keeping the music alive" in the wake of the death, last month, of guitarist Gary Rossington, the last original member of the Southern Rock legends.
The statement from the band, fronted since 1987 by Johnny Van Zant, reads: "The current members of the band, led by Johnny Van Zant, the singer for the past 36 years, were unsure if they would continue following Gary’s untimely passing. After much discussion with the band, the families of Ronnie Van Zant and Allen Collins, and Dale Rossington, the collective has reached unified support, and feel that continuing to perform LIVE, and keeping the music alive, is in the best interest of the fans and everyone involved."
Rossington's wife of 41 years, Dale Krantz-Rossington, who performs backing vocals with the Jacksonville, Florida group, added, "I recently lost my husband and partner of over 41 years. He was an amazing father, grandfather, brother and friend, but most importantly was a world class musician and songwriter. It’s been my honor and privilege to share the stage with him for all these years. His music touched so many millions of people around The World, and Gary was always the first to say how, ‘Skynyrd’s music is bigger than me or any one person.’"
"Gary made it known at every chance to express how timeless the music was, and it was always his goal to keep the music alive for his brothers because that was always their dream. He spent his entire life trying to carry on that dream for Ronnie, Allen, Steve and all the others over the years. While he was not able to physically be on stage with the current lineup over the last couple years, he supported them in every way. His dream will continue thanks to Johnny, Rickey and the rest of our band mates to continue to carry his legacy and music on for future generations.”
Johnny Van Zant, the younger brothers of the band's original vocalist, the late Ronnie Van Zant added, "Gary was not only my brother, bandmate and friend. I think he loved me as much as I loved him. We would do anything for each other. We laughed, we fell, we cried and made up, and shared the stage for the last 36 years. Gary, along with my brother Ronnie and Allen started this band and left us all a legacy of music that has stood the test of time, and crossed three generations of fans. The music they created, and the music we created, together since 1987, was always meant to be experienced LIVE. We have come together with the founding band member estates, and everyone involved, and feel the music should continue for everyone to love and enjoy. So we will continue to perform for the Skynyrd Nation."
Ronnie's widow Judy Van Zant Jenness adds, “Lynyrd Skynyrd has been a part of my life for 50+ years. The journey has been filled with love, joy, friendship and tragedy. Ronnie, Gary and Allen’s dream was to write music that would connect with people and to play that music live. I cannot say with certainty what those who have passed on would want us to do, but I do know what Gary wanted. And I know what the fans want. To show our undying love for those who are no longer with us and to pay tribute to them, the music will continue. The Lynyrd Skynyrd family is unified in this decision."
Lynyrd Skynyrd will return to the road on April 29, to continue their 50th anniversary celebrations. The band will later embark on a summer co-headlining US tour with ZZ Top, titled, The Sharp Dressed Simple Man Tour.
At last night's Country Music Television Awards in Texas, Skynyrd were honoured with a star-studded tribute, led by Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Paul Rodgers and members of the Allman Brothers Band.