Interview with Lynyrd Skynyrd: Take It All In

Lynyrd SkynyrdI sat down with Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Rickey is best known as the frontman/guitarist for the southern rock band Blackfoot, but more recently, as a guitarist for Skynyrd. He was a member of Skynyrd for a brief time in 1970 as a drummer, then left the band. He rejoined in 1996 as lead guitarist. We spoke about The Kid, “Sweet Home Alabama” and why people yell “Freebird” at rock shows all the time.

How did your relationship with Kid Rock come along?

We met each other back in ‘99. ZZ Top and ourselves were out touring together. We played the palace in Auburn Hills [Michigan] and he actually came out to visit and meet everybody, being that we were right near Detroit. We met him like that and kinda struck up a relationship and had a cool kinda bond with each other right off. We actually did, on the Vicious Cycle record, we did a remake of ‘Gimme Back My Bullets’ that he sang on and that came about right after we had met him. I had approached him and asked if he’d consider doing that and he said he’d love to.

Over the years, he’s been a friend of ours and we played shows and we’ve stayed friends with him over the years. He ended up signing with the same management than us. We had talked about doing dates together last year but it didn’t happen. All of a sudden this year, the timing was right and we’re working on new product and he’s got new product, and by chance he does the song ‘The Summertime,’ which has ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ in it. The union together of doing the tour became a reality. We tried it already at the Garden and it went down really cool. A lot of people and press are asking if we find this to be a strange hook-up. My answer to the whole thing is, why would it be strange?

He’s talked about Skynyrd as one of his influences. And him using ‘Alabama’ in the song makes me say to people ‘Have you opened your ears lately and really been open-minded enough to think?’ A lot of these guys that are doing good business now with their careers like ourselves, AC/DC, Aerosmith and all the classic bands, probably have been a big influence on a lot of these artists. So it wasn’t so strange of a hook up as people would think.

I remember year before last, we did a hook-up with the guys from 3 Doors Down. Those guys are from Mississippi, they’re from the South. And they did a cover of ‘That Smell,’ and it worked out phenomenal. But with us and Kid Rock, for people that would probably not come out to a Skynyrd show and go ‘Wow, this isn’t the typical classic rock band, these guys are smokin,’ because the band is an up-energy band and we’re out there pounding it. A lot of fans who come to see us won’t normally see Kid Rock and end up loving him. So I think this is a perfect match up and we’re talking about continuing it until whenever.

How do you feel about the exposure the Kid Rock song is bringing to your band?

You gotta realize, ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ as the millionth downloaded ring tone last year. So I believe everybody and anybody who’s seen the Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial has heard ‘Alabama.’ And I think anyone that’s seen the movie ConAir, Forrest Gump, it’s just like those songs, I don’t care what walk of life you’re in. I’ve met some pretty hard core urban rap guys who say they love ‘Alabama’ and ‘Freebird.’ I don’t think there’s anyone in this country or world who at one point or another who hasn’t heard the song. I think Kid is happy to have us out with him and vice versa. The song is doing great and it’s spiked Skynyrd as far as sales and stuff like that. It’s just a great joint venture all around.