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Lynyrd Skynyrd Don’t Mind People Yelling ‘Free Bird’

Lynyrd Skynyrd
Geoff Burke, Getty Images

We’ve all been at concerts where some guy, who’s usually had a few too many, shouts out a request for ‘Free Bird,’ even if it’s not a Lynyrd Skynyrd show. While many of us would love to have security go to town on him – if for nothing else a lack of originality – the members of band, unsurprisingly, have a different take. In a new interview, founding guitarist Gary Rossington spoke about what it means to him.

At the end of an appearance on WNYC’s ‘Soundcheck‘ host John Schaefer asked Rossington and multi-instrumentalist Rickey Medlocke if they’ve ever heard somebody yell ‘Free Bird’ while attending another band’s show. After the laughter died down, Rossington, who played the sweeping slide guitar part on the original recording, spoke about what it means to him.

“It’s kind of embarrassing if you’re with the band that’s playing,” he said. “But it’s a great honor and it’s great that people do that. It’s funny, I hear it not just at concerts, but at movies or anywhere there’s a crowd.”

Rossington, who played the sweeping slide guitar intro on the original recording, then reflected on what he thinks about when he hears the request at his own gigs. For him, it’s also a chance to think about his friends who died in the tragic 1977 plane crash.

“I feel so bad – we never get to talk about this – for Ronnie [Van Zant] and Allen [Collins] and Steve [Gaines] to see the people now because back when we wrote these songs…they weren’t classic yet. They were new…you didn’t hear [people shouting] ‘Free Bird’ back then. But now…people will always say, “Don’t you get tired of playing ‘Free Bird’ or ‘[Sweet Home] Alabama‘ and I say, ‘No, man. You should see the crowd. It’s just great. It makes you feel like it’s brand new every time we play it.”

The audio, in which they discuss their history and their new album, ‘Last of a Dyin’ Breed,’ is embedded below. The discussion about ‘Free Bird’ comes at about the 24-minute mark.

Lynyrd Skynyrd on WYNC’s ‘Soundcheck’

Next: Top 10 Lynyrd Skynyrd Songs

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