by Joseph Rooe
"I screwed up a lot when I was quite young. Assault and battery. Attempted murder. One time I was in jail for 90 days.
never finished high school."

Jhe guys in the band can tell, and they just say 'Hey, you're really getting up"Oh yeah, we smash up a lot of shit. If we feel the pressure, we'll let it off, and we'll tear up the place. And then pay for it and say, 'That's better than smashing up each other.' Although we do that, too,

tight. Don't fuck up.'

la{way across the country the

night before and had immediately boarded a plane to arrive in time for his interview

Ronnie Yar, Zant munched on a piece of fried chicken half - heartedly, and his eyelids were dropping as he recited this in a sleepy voice. "I'm not braggin', " he added, "I was terrible. I was the black sheep in the family. But things sorted out. I sorted them all out. It's just that now, even when we're playing music and stuff, many times that same attitude will come back." The Ronnie Y an Zant facing me across the small table in the hotel room barely

the microphone stand, though playful,
nevertheless showed in what direction his disposition is won't to go. And woe be the person, band member or otherwise, who

Onstage, Ronnie is another story. Even when he's in good humor, his swipes at fellow members of Lynyrd Skynyrd with

sometimes. But mo$t times you just smash up the place and then, '0K, it's over with. We let it out.' " .The explosions come suddenly and without warning. "Most of the time I feel like that I didn't let it off onstage, and I've got to let if off somewhere. And a couple of drinks and the goodbyes gone and I'll just pow - make a fool out of myself. I always wind up paying for it one way or
the other." Lynyrd Skynyrd is a band in the finest rock tradition of hard playing and hard living. But as Ronnie said, they pay for it. So far they've lost two members to this life-style. The first was drummer Bobby Burns, who had a nervous breakdown and had to be taken away to a rest home. Then guitarist Ed King quit because he saw the same thing about to happen to him. Fora while, Skynyrd continued with just two

ignites this powder keg after one of
skynyrd's few mediocre sets.

to masticate, let alone lift his hand against his fellow man in anger. But that was because he had played a gig
seemed able

"A bad gig will get me upset," admitted Ronnie. "When we screw up what we're playing, I'll come back and get really mad. Or if we're out for four months oi something, anytime after a month or so, and I'm really tired, then I get uptight.

but guitarist Steve Gaines, whose sister Kathy is a backup vocalist with the band, was finaily brought in to bring the boys back to full strength.




"Bobby went out with his boots on,"
said Ronnie. "He was workin'hard all the way to the end. He just blew a 50-amp fuse and just wasn't the same person. Just


And was it because of the hard living? "Oh very much so,. I know it was. The
doctors even say he pushed himself to the limit and wound up in the deep end." Ronnie spoke in a sort of clinical voice.

to do it no more.' And he split. That's it." Again, Ronnie did not sound angry at his army's deserter. It was just something to understand and then forget. The war
goes on.

couldn't cope with it anymore. "Well, Ed inherited a lot of money between our first and second albums. I don't know how much, but a bunch. So he didn't have to do anything anymore. And when the pressure really got down on us, he said, 'Fuck it, man. I don't have

all the time and towards the end

Not without emotion you can tell he's sorry for Bobby but-it was as ifhe were a soldier who had successfully landed on Iwo Jima talking about a friend who didn't. There was no time to look back, because the big battles were still ahead. With Ed King, "it was very much that we were touring almost constantly, and ... Well, Ill tell you the truth. He was doing a lot of stuff that he shouldn't have been doing. He was doing a lot of tubes drubs. There was a lot of pressure on us

"We still tour more than any band I know of in America, right now. And it has been that way for the last three years. I'm not so surprised by Ed doing it
because he was doing some stuff that was bad for him to begin with. Bobby was

(continued on page 64)

Photos by Neal Preston