Across Lynyrd Skynyrd's sprawling catalog and over years of epic good time jams, Gary Rossington left an indelible mark on a generation of guitar players.
Among them was Zakk Wylde. He might be a Hudson County native, born north of the Mason-Dixon, but the Ozzy and Black Label Society guitarist’s sound and style has long marinated in the Southern rock flavors of Skynyrd. Their influence is deep and profound in how Wylde addresses the electric guitar.
In this interview, culled from 2012 but appearing in GW for the first time, he picks five tracks that any Skynyrd neophyte should check out first. And technically it’s six, because he mentions a deep cut that perhaps did not get the love that it should.
1. Free Bird
“At 11 minutes, the live version [from One More from the Road, 1976] is even longer than the studio one, but both are amazing. Ronnie wrote the lyric about Duane Allman [who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1971], but I guess now it makes people think of anyone they know and love that has passed away. And down through the years the ripping instrumental jam at the end has become iconic.”
2. Sweet Home Alabama
“I wonder whether Skynyrd knew what a grand slam they’d hit with Sweet Home Alabama once it was done, or, like Robert Plant once said of Stairway to Heaven, that it was a ‘nice little wedding song’? They must’ve known just how special it was at the time because it’s as timeless as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”
3. I Know A Little
“The guitar playing is beyond insane. I first heard it when I was learning how to play and thought: ‘God, I’ll never be able to do that.’ The licks, the phrasing… it’s just amazing.”
4. I Never Dreamed
“It’s one of their less well-known songs, but I really love it. We covered it with Black Label Society [as a bonus track on the Mafia album, 2005]. The lyrics, the vocal delivery and the guitar parts combine to make it an incredible song.”
5. That Smell
“Again, the guitar playing is phenomenal. I could’ve picked something more obscure like Swamp Music, but if you haven’t heard Skynyrd before, this is a great song to check out.”