Why Lynyrd Skynyrd Takes the Stage to AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’
There's electricity in the air when Lynyrd Skynyrd takes the stage. They need no introduction, yet the band does have intro music – courtesy of a different legendary act.
When the current lineup of Johnny Van Zant, Rickey Medlocke, Michael Cartellone, Mark Matejka, Peter Keys and Keith Christopher comes on stage, the sounds of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” echo through the venue.
The choice has an unusual backstory.
Late bassist "Leon Wilkeson from Skynyrd got married years ago and I played his reception with my own band," Van Zant told UCR while promoting the band's Sharp Dressed Simple Man tour. In attendance at the wedding were a few people the singer didn’t know.
"These small guys were there, and I was like, 'Who are these guys?' It was the guys from AC/DC," Van Zant revealed. "I picked up their record after meeting them and put it on and went, 'I really like these guys.'"
Years later, Johnny Van Zant would open for AC/DC on a run of shows with his namesake group, before taking over the reins of Lynyrd Skynyrd from his late brother.
"Every night, I had a neck ache, because I stood there with my head pounding, watching them play," Van Zant said. "So, I was a big AC/DC fan and I love ‘Thunderstruck.’ It just puts me in a good mood. I’m ready to go out and kick some butt!"
The camaraderie between AC/DC and Lynyrd Skynyrd spans decades. The two groups shared a mutual respect in the early days, despite having been formed a world away from one another.
“With all bands, there’s a rivalry but when we met those guys we really hit it off,” late Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington once told Classic Rock. “We were kind of alike – ratty little guys with attitude.”
Legend has it the two bands once jammed together on a rendition of “Sweet Home Alabama,” though tapes from that rumored recording session have never emerged. Regardless, the bond between both acts lives on.
“We were the same kind of band – they were cocky Australians, we were cocky southern rebels,” Rossington said of their glory days. “Those were some good times.”
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