“Troubles will come and they will pass.”
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s prophetic lyric couldn’t be more true. Reeling from a tragic 1977 plane crash which claimed six lives, including band members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines, Lynyrd Skynyrd disbanded only to reform in 1987 with Johnny Van Zant taking over lead vocals from his brother Ronnie. The current line-up also includes Gary Rossington (guitar), Peter Keys (appropriately on the keys), Johnny Colt (bass), Rickey Medlocke (guitar), Michael Cortellone (drummer), Mark Matejka (guitar), Dale Krantz Rossington and Carol Chase (background vocals).
As part of a campaign to save Atlanta’s Fox Theatre from demolition, Skynyrd recorded their live album, One More From The Road, here in 1976 and returned on November 12, 2014 to celebrate one of the most iconic and influential rock bands in history. A new 2-disc DVD/CD entitled One More For The Fans features performances from this concert by artists such as Blackberry Smoke, Gregg Allman, Jason Isbell and Peter Frampton. One More For The Fans, released today on Loud & Proud Records in partnership with Blackbird Presents, includes over 20 minutes of DVD extras, showcasing classic artists and rising stars performing songs from Skynyrd’s extensive catalog of music (over 60 albums and 30 million in sales worldwide).
The DVD begins with the Rock & Roll Hall of Famers walking into the theatre, signing autographs and looking ready to kick some ass. Country artist Randy Houser kicks the show off with “Whiskey Rock A Roller”, shouting to the crowded room “You all ready to have a hell of a night? Well let’s do this! C’mon Skynyrd fans!” Most of the guest artists have a full band with them, including a horn section and backup singers and everyone is rocking out; there’s several audience members fist pumping the sky, but mostly they’re just mesmerized and taking it all in.
Robert Randolph and Jimmy Hall perform “You Got That Right” next and Randolph is really killing it on pedal steel guitar and swinging that baby all over the joint; the artists are obviously enjoying themselves immensely and that passion permeates through the theatre’s full house.
Aaron Lewis hits it home with “Saturday Night Special” and the cell phones come out as the metal rocker makes rock and roll love to the mic, belting out Skynyrd’s anthem about gun control and the sheer force of it is mind-numbingly powerful.
“It’s great to be home,” says Atlanta-based Charlie Starr, frontman for Southern rock band (and frequent Skynyrd tour mates) Blackberry Smoke. The band plays the hard rocking “Workin’ For MCA” bathed in a green light and totally owning this song. The audience responds enthusiastically to their set and goes wild when Starr ends with his signature “Oh Lord, yeah baby!”
OAR brings a fresh pop-rock take on “Don’t Ask Me No Questions”, complete with saxophone, leather jackets and slick vocals. It definitely illustrates how Skynyrd’s songs translate to different styles of musical genres.
Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander still proves that no one can rock a leather Village People-style outfit better performing “Gimme Back My Bullets” with cool retro electric guitars, explosive percussion and reminded the audience that you don’t have to sell your soul to the devil to be able to play mind-blowing rock and roll.
“How about The Ballad of Curtis Loew?” Legendary troubadour John Hiatt asks, turning it down a notch with this ballad about “the finest picker to ever play the blues.” Hiatt’s whiskey laden vocals and penchant for epic storytelling really captured the raw essence of this song.
Gov’t Mule is joined onstage by guitarist Audley Freed to play “Simple Man.” The band has been performing their own take on this classic for awhile, even recording it for the Skynyrd tribute album Under The Influence. Warren Haynes mentions during an interview pause that he first saw Lynyrd Skynyrd when he was 12 or 13 years old and had no clue who they were but “they sounded different than anything any of us had ever heard before.”
You could almost hear a pin drop when Jamey Johnson sings the haunting “Four Walls of Raiford” with only a dobro accompaniment. It’s a powerful song about an innocent Vietnam vet sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Working on the chain gang, full of despair and desperation he laments, “well, I’m one of America’s heroes and when they shoot me down/won’t fly old Glory proudly, put my medals in the ground.”
Alabama-raised Jason Isbell immediately fires up his electric guitar, playing it fast and furious for “I Know A Little”, giving this tune a bit of a rockabilly vibe. The addition of female backup vocalists really make you feel like you’re at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio playing with the Swampers, which isn’t too far off considering that Isbell’s former Drive-By Truckers bandmate is Patterson Hood, whose dad David was a Swamper and one of the original founders of Muscle Shoals Sound Studio where Skynyrd recorded what should have been their debut album. The sound quality was not up to par, however (which wasn’t the studio’s fault) and these songs were eventually released years later.
Peter Frampton, Trace Adkins, Charlie Daniels with Ronnie’s brother Donnie Van Zant, Alabama and Gregg Allman all do justice to Skynyrd’s songs.
Johnny Van Zant pays tribute to his late brother and bandmates saying, “they’re here in spirit, I goddamn guarantee that.” The screen fills with images of a tour bus, road signs and Ronnie Van Zant singing “Travelin’ Man” to which Johnny sings along. If you don’t get chills watching this then I can only surmise that you don’t have a heart. Lifting a flag-draped microphone up and pointing to heaven, Johnny Van Zant sings the ultimate song request and the test of every band’s level of patience since it’s release, “Free Bird”. The tune starts off fairly genteel then rocks out in an epic, fiery jam as the screen flashes names: Ronnie, Allen, Steve, Leon, Billy, Hughie, Ean, Cassie, JoJo and Dean.
“Turn it up Atlanta!” is shouted as all the musicians congregate onstage to perform Skynyrd power anthem “Sweet Home Alabama” as the credits roll and we are reminded that great rock and roll never gets old, but continues to resonate and inspire generations.
There’s a short segment where some of the participating artists explaining how Lynyrd Skynyrd influenced them. Trace Adkins says, “it was a vibe, it was a culture, they embodied it and brought it out vocally, sonically and it’s some kind of intangible thing that they did that affected young men like me and it’s lasted for decades.”