Lynyrd Skynyrd: 'We still utilize' flag

Sept. 22, 2012 at 3:05 PM
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ATLANTA, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington says the U.S. band has not stopped using the Confederate flag in its shows, despite a CNN report to the contrary.

CNN had said the Southern rock band dropped the Confederate flag imagery due to its racist undertones.

The band -- which gained fame in the 1970s with hits like "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Free Bird" -- has a history of embracing old South imagery, including using the Confederate flag onstage during performances.

During an interview to promote its new studio album, "Last of a Dyin' Breed," Rossington -- the last surviving original member of the band -- told CNN: "Through the years, people like the KKK and skinheads kinda kidnapped the Dixie or Southern flag from its tradition and the heritage of the soldiers, that's what it was about. 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."

News of the interview provoked some negative blowback from online commentators.

"Good luck with your next release 'Sweet home Massachusetts.' I am sure it will climb the charts with a bullet in Yankee-land," one wrote.

"This isn't the real Lynyrd Skynyrd anyway. They should have taken a name like 'Obama's Politically Correct Sell Your Soul Make Believe Impostors' or something," wrote another.

Band members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines were killed in a 1977 plane crash.

In a posting on the band's website, Rossington said he wanted to "clarify the discussion of the Confederate Flag in our recent CNN interview."

"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," he wrote. "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..."

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