Lynyrd Skynyrd


RockPages Talks To Donnie Van Zant

Tuesday, December 2, 2014
RockPagesGR have interviewed Donnie Van Zant, brother of Johnny and of course the great Ronnie...talking about his recent album with Johnny, the chance of working with him again on a new album, Van Zant's turning to country on album three, his retirement, the tragic plane crash in '77, childhood and the stories about Ronnie's ghost...

You can find the interview here:

Here are some extracts... How did your collaboration with Johnny as Van Zant brothers come up in 1998 when you released the album “Brother To Brother”?
Donnie Van Zant: Well, my brother, the only way I can explain it is that in happened back in 1977. You know, that was when my older brother Ronnie was killed on the plane crash. After that a lot of things changed for me. One thing with John, I just told myself right then and theere that I will make sure that I spend a lot of time, as much I can spend with him. Basically, I was just starting and I wanted to spend as much time with him being brothers more than anything. So, when these opportunities came up to do musical projects I jumped on it, he did too. Is there any chance that you guys make another record, what do you think?
Ronnie Van Zant: You know what? I say “never say never!” Because, I will be truthful with you, we write constantly! I mean when he is home and I am not doing other projects and stuff we just constantly write. We probably have enough songs to do another two records. So, it’s just a part of our lives, it’s what we actually do, sort of our hobby: writing songs. We are next door neighbors, so it’s very easy. Johnny has a little office and we get together and bang them out, you know. Are you officially considered retired?
Donnie Van Zant: You know what? If this is retirement I am doing more work than I should, hahaha! You know, what happened was that I wass out on tour with .38 Special somewhere in Texas, I can’t remember where we were at, but it was Texas, and it was our first show, I was gettingg ready for the show there and I had some bleeding from one of my ears and that freaked me completely out! And then it stopped and went ahead, but I had a really hard time on that particular show. I couldn’t really hear chords very well and between you and me I was singing out of key and that was really embarrassing! So, we had a few more shows and then I called my specialist and when I came how I went to see him and he couldn’t see where the bleeding came from, but he told me to take a hearing test. Obviously, I agreed to it and when I did the hearing test I haven’t realized how much of my hearing I have lost. I knew I was having problems, but I’d never admitted to myself, but, I hhave lost probably about 75% of high and mid range, so I got about 25% left here, so I am doing what I can, There have beeen many stories, and lots of them are published about Ronnie’s spirit, even Ronnie’s ghost, people seeing Ronnie fishing or wandering around, do you believe any of that? Havve you seen any of that?
Donnie Van Zant: You know, I WISH! I would love to see him again! I don’t care how! Hahahah! But, firstly I haven’t! I’ve been always a true believer and that, I believe in spiritual beings and stuff like thhat and I can tell you that through all those years of playing there were times when I thought Ronnie was on that stage with me, I could feel him! And it was sort of weird but I could! As well as other people, my mother and father, my sister, so, yes I do believe it but I havenn’t seen Ronnie. I wish I could!

LYNYRD SKYNYRD 'Sweet Home Alabama' 1996 Concert Out June 2

Tuesday, June 2, 2015
New York, NY (March 23, 2015)' On June 2, 2015, Eagle Rock Entertainment will release Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd on 2CD and digital formats [Pre-book Order Date May 8, MSRP $17.98].  This classic 1996 Rockpalast concert  - released for the first time on CD - features the band performing all their classics: 'Sweet Home Alabama,' 'Free Bird,' 'Working For MCA,' 'Saturday Night Special,' 'Gimme Three Steps,' 'I Ain't The One,' and many more. A 2LP release will follow.

Lynyrd Skynyrd is the ultimate Southern Rock band. Their signature three-guitar attack coupled with superb songwriting and onstage charisma has rightfully earned them a reputation as one of the greatest live bands of all time. The original band infamously had their career cut short by a disastrous plane crash in 1977, which took the lives of three band members (vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and vocalist Cassie Gaines) plus assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray, and seriously injured several others. In 1987, the surviving members reformed the band with Johnny Van Zant taking the place of his brother Ronnie. This concert from 1996 captures the band in top form at Rockpalast's Loreley Festival on June 23, 1996. The band line-up for this show includes Johnny Van Zant (v), Gary Rossington (g), Rickey Medlocke (g, v), Hughie Thomasson (g), Billy Powell (k), Leon Wilkeson (b, v), Owen Hale (d), Dale Krantz-Rossington (bv), Carol Chase (bv).
As a bonus, Sweet Home Alabama also includes extremely rare recordings of the original Lynyrd Skynyrd line-up. Captured at the Hamburg Musikhalle on December 5 1974, Ronnie Van Zant (v), Gary Rossington (g), Allen Collins (g, v), Ed King (g), Billy Powell (k), Leon Wilkeson (b, v), and Bob Burns (d) deliver incredible versions of 'Working For MCA,' 'Free Bird,' and 'Sweet Home Alabama.'

Sweet Home Alabama proves that Lynyrd Skynyrd's signature and sizzlin' Southern-fried sound was able to enthrall fans the world over. It is a testament to the legendary band's resilience to tragedy (which would have railroaded many other acts) and their ability to carry on and continue to rock stages with fervor and spirit.

Disc 1:
  1.  Workin' For MCA   
  2.  I Ain't The One   
  3.  Down South Junkin'   
  4.  Double Trouble   
  5.  I Know A Little   
  6.  Saturday Night Special**   
  7.  Swamp Music   
  8.  What's Your Name   
  9. That Smell   
  10. Simple Man***   
  11. Gimme Three Steps   
  12. Call Me The Breeze
Disc 2:
  1. Sweet Home Alabama****   
  2. Free Bird  
CD Bonus Tracks From Hamburg 1974:
3) Workin' For MCA  
4) Free Bird
5) Sweet Home Alabama

**Side B of 2LP format 
***Side B of 2LP format 
****Side D of 2LP format  

JIM PETERIK Through The Eye Of The Tiger Autobiography Due September

Tuesday, September 23, 2014
The writer/performer of such classic hits as “Eye of the Tiger” and “Vehicle” reveals his life both on-stage and off, including having a chart hit as a 15-year-old, penning one of the great inspirational anthems of all time and touring with Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead
New York, NY (July 28, 2014)— You may not recognize the name Jim Peterik, but the songs he’s written have made an indelible mark on pop music history, an incredible first-person tale he relates in his biography, Through the Eye of the Tiger: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Life of Survivor’s Founding Member, published by BenBella Books on September 23.
It’s all here, from his beginnings as a 15-year-old in the Ides of March, which the Illinois native playfully dubs “The Beatles of Berwyn,” scoring a #2 Billboard hit in 1970 with the horn-laden “Vehicle,” to being personally asked by Sylvester Stallone to write a song for Rocky III, which turned out to be “Eye of the Tiger,” the triple-platinum, Grammy-winning inspirational anthem that gives the book its name.
“This is my chance to connect the dots and put a face behind those songs,” says Peterik about writing the book. “I love the past, but I don’t live there. And I’m not ashamed of it, either. I’ll be playing ‘Vehicle’ until the day I die, but I would feel unfulfilled if I wasn’t paying it forward, discovering new talent and writing with my heroes.”
Through the Eye of the Tiger offers a close-up view of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle – its pitfalls and triumphs along the way, as Peterik’s anecdotes include The Ides of March touring with Led Zeppelin (opening for them in Winnipeg), Janis Joplin (“I had to walk her home because she was too inebriated to get to her hotel”), the Grateful Dead (“I shared a deli tray with Jerry Garcia without getting dosed”) and the Allman Joys (the predecessor to the Allman Brothers).
It’s also a cautionary tale about the dangers of drugs and groupies, which Peterik carefully avoided during a 42-year (and counting marriage) to his wife Karen, whom he met when he was 17 and she was 15 during a Turtles concert at their high school. The two have a 24-year-old son, Colin, who is a musician himself, which makes Jim one proud father.
“I don’t think I could have written this book 10 years ago,” says Peterik. “I’ve finally reached a point where I see a very bright future for all the things I’m doing, but I can also appreciate what I’ve done. I thought the time was right to tell my story.”
That story includes a personal invitation from Sly Stallone, who left a message on his answering machine to call him, then asked if he’d write a song for Rocky III, which turned into “Eye of the Tiger,” a huge hit still ubiquitous at sporting stadiums and arenas everywhere. “I got the title from what Burgess Meredith tells Rocky in the movie,” says Peterik about the song he co-wrote with Survivor bandmate, guitarist Frank Sullivan, revealing it was the demo that made it into the final movie. “It had the mojo,” he said simply.
A world class tunesmith, Peterik’s songs have sold 30 million around the world, with 18 Top 10 hits, including “Hold on Loosely,” “Caught Up in You,” “Rocking Into the Night,” “Fantasy Girl,” collaborating most recently with Brian Wilson on the title track to the Beach Boys’ acclaimed album, That’s Why God Made the Radio. The artists Peterik has worked with over the years include .38 Special, Sammy Hagar, REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin, Buddy Guy, the Doobie Brothers, Cheap Trick, Night Ranger, Dennis DeYoung, Reba McEntire, David Hasselhoff, Johnny Rivers and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
“I always lived in a creative bubble removed from the business,” he says. “For me the song is the ‘vehicle’… pun intended.  I did everything in the service of the song. It didn’t matter what happened on the bus or in the dressing room. I wanted my message of positivity to survive.”
To that end, Peterik’s first book, Songwriting for Dummies, is a best-seller about his own creative methods, and he travels around the world giving seminars on the subject.
As for his survival, he credits it to never losing his focus. “I’m a late bloomer,” says the 64-year-old. “I’m now the guy with the purple hair, red leather suit and striped guitar. It’s a delayed response to the fact I took a back seat all those years. I’m having the time of my life.
“I do this for the love of music, to hear my God-given voice echo across a filled auditorium.”
Later this year, Peterik will mark the 50th anniversary of his still-active The Ides of March with a deluxe, 70-song, three-disc reissue of the seminal band’s catalog, including a DVD featuring a live concert from Chicago’s House of Blues, Rare footage, interviews with the band and videos of “Vehicle” and “Last Band Standing.”
“Writing this book tore me apart,” he admits. “Going through the good times – those early idyllic years as a teenager with The Ides of March, and then with Survivor, surviving some rough times. It was very painful dredging all that up… the separation from my wife for months at a time, when the loneliness would just grip me, with music my only drug.”
Peterik captures it all in Through the Eye of the Tiger, the memoirs of a true rock ‘n’ roll Survivor.
Twitter:  (@jimpeterik)
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