Lynyrd Skynyrd: Controversy With Confederate Flag

Throughout the United States, there are mixed feelings on the confederate flag and what it stands for. These mixed feelings are for the most part between the people who live above the Mason-Dixon line and those that live below it. The Mason-Dixon line is more commonly known for separating the north and south (free and slave) states during the 1800’s and American Civil War-era.

To people above the Mason-Dixie the confederate flag is a symbol of slavery, segregation, and racism. To those living below the Mason-Dixie, it is a symbol of their heritage, unity, and standing up for their state’s rights. However, one popular rock band views the confederate flag a little differently.

According to NBC News, Lynard Skynard looks to the “rebel” flag as a part of their bands brand-good time southern rock made by men with flowing locks and cranked up guitars. The confederate flag has also made appearances in almost every one of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s performance since establishing the band in the 1960’s.

However, lately the band has seemed to have been disaccociating themselves with the flag. When three members of the band (Gary Rossington, Rickey Medlocke and Johnny Van Zant) appeared on CNN to discuss their new album, “Last of a Dyin’ Breed”, Fredricka Whitfield questioned them about their disaccociation with the “rebel” flag.

“It became such an issue about race and stuff where we just had it in the beginning because we were Southern, and that was our image back in the’70s and late ’60s … but I think through the years, people like the KKK and skinheads and people kind of kidnapped the Dixie or Rebel flag from the Southern and the heritage of the soldiers,” explained guitarist and sole original band member Rossington. “We didn’t want that to go to our fans or show the image like we agreed with any of the race stuff or any of the bad things.”

Since the interview, the band has been getting some rather negative criticsm from fans who have admired them throughout the years for continuing to fly the confederate flag during shows.

“By ignoring and denying the flag that is part of their history, they are leaving a large segment of their fan base behind,” wrote G.D. Smith on the boards. “It’s a shame that money is now more important than honor or heritage.”

“We hope you never come back to ‘Sweet Home Alabama,'” wrote another fan, L.E. Thompson.

In response to the angry fans, Gary Rossington posted a message on the bands website “clarifying the discussion of the confederate flag” in the interview, the message read:

“Myself, the past members and the present members (that are from the South), are all extremely proud of our heritage and being from the South. We know what the Dixie flag represents and its heritage; the Civil War was fought over States rights.

“We still utilize the Confederate (Rebel) flag on stage every night in our shows, we are and always will be a Southern American Rock band, first and foremost. We also utilize the state flag of Alabama and the American flag as well, ‘cause at the end of the day, we are all Americans. I only stated my opinion that the confederate flag, at times, was unfairly being used as a symbol by various hate groups, which is something that we don’t support the flag being used for. The Confederate flag means something more to us, Heritage not Hate…”