Out of work? Lynyrd Skynyrd feels your pain

Legendary Southern Rock band from Jacksonville idled by coronavirus

Legendary Southern Rock band from Jacksonville idled by coronavirus

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Among those put out of work by the coronavirus pandemic is Jacksonville’s Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The band has not played a concert since early March. That has idled nine musicians and 23 support personnel.

Lead singer Johnny Van Zant said he’s trying to take care of the people who work for Skynyrd.

“This thing swept us off our feet," Van Zant said. “Somebody told me the other day they’re 80% down on their business. I said, 'Hey, at least you got 20. We got none.”

Van Zant said he is taking care of his house, getting some projects done until the music industry and the country decide when it is safe to resume concert tours.

“It’s just all on hold. It’s up to the government," he said. “Just my opinion, but I can’t imagine them going OK, it’s okay for us to congregate that much, putting 5,000 to 10,000 people in a building. There’s talk of doing every other seat, especially indoor arenas. I think what will open up first is outdoor shows because people can have social distancing. I think arenas will come along later.”

UNCUT: Tom Wills’ full interview with Johnny Van Zant

Van Zant said he doesn’t see much live music happening before the end of this year.

“I was talking to a friend of mine and we were like, just think, all around the world there’s nobody playing music. During the Great Depression, music was a healer. I think it will be a healer when we all start up again, start playing.”

Van Zant said he’s been on the road all his life and is at a loss.

“Tom. I truly think I want to play more now than ever. Just to get back out and see people smiling and having a good time,” he said. “I do want to tell your listeners: ‘Hey, let’s don’t let our guard down on this. We don’t ever want to shut down again." We don’t want people dying. "I want to tell everybody, 'God bless you.’”

To hear what Johnny and his brother Donnie are doing together right now and to hear Johnny thoughts on the Lynyrd Skynyrd crash monument dedicated last fall at the site of the 1977 Mississippi plane crash that killed the band’s original lead singer and their older brother, Ronnie, and five others, watch our entire conversation.

VIDEO: The Legacy of Lynyrd Sknyrd now includes a black granite monument along a rural Mississippi road honoring the memory of the plane crash 42 years that nearly wiped out the Jacksonville based southern rock band.

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About the Author:

Tom Wills joined Channel 4 in 1975 and has co-anchored Jacksonville's highest-rated evening newscasts for more than 40 years.