After repeatedly adding dates to its 'Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour' in 2018, 2019 and early-2020, Lynyrd Skynyrd has finally admitted that it jumped the gun on retirement.
Just days after the iconic Southern rock band's return to the stage this past weekend, the band has struck any references to farewell from its tour, rebranding it the 'Big Wheels Keep on Turnin'' tour.
Guitarist Gary Rossington, the band's sole remaining co-founder, explained that after the COVID-19 pandemic gave all the band members a taste of retirement, they decided to keep the band together but with a less rigorous touring scheduled and a more "selective" approach to booking going forward.
“We were two shows into the end of the three-year plan for the farewell tour, when the virus hit and everything was just gone,” singer Johnny Van Zant explained in a statement. “Once something is taken away from you — music and touring, in our case — you truly realize how important it is and such a part of your life. Music is a great healer, and that’s what we all turn to when things are good or bad. A Skynyrd show is a family affair, and we want these dates to help heal our fans as much as ourselves."
The cancellations spurred a conversation, Rossington added.
"And since that time, we have been talking amongst the band, and realized that music has such a way of healing. Maybe it’s not our time to go. And maybe it’s our time to lift people’s spirits and lives and bring back some joy and happiness after so much turmoil this past year. We’re still standing, still keeping the music going."
Rossington, Van Zant and guitarist Ricky Medlocke also addressed the change of course in a video message to fans. Rossington explains that a main driver of the initial retirement plan were his heart problems. But he's since got those issues "all fixed, so now I'm feeling all right."
Van Zant added that Lynyrd Skynyrd's considerations for future touring go beyond the needs of the band members. Much of their crew was out of work for an entire year due to the pandemic shutdowns.
"People count on us, you know? All of the sudden you have nothing to pay your light bill with, so it was a very scary time for all of us," he said.
In an interview with Q104.3 New York in late-2019, Van Zant addressed the band's continually expanding farewell tour plan.
"...I've said it myself, 'God, they're still on their farewell tour?!' But when you do like 50 - 60 shows a year, you don't cover a lot of ground," he explained. "When we started out — what 2019 in West Palm Beach? — we said, 'Hey, we want to hit every place we've ever played and every place we didn't play before we say goodbye.' So you know we're going to be playing some next year, too. We want to go say goodbye to all of our fans."
Lynyrd Skynyrd 2021 'Big Wheels Keep on Turnin'' Tour
June 13 - Forest City, Iowa, Country Thunder Iowa
June 18 - Ft. Worth, Texas, Billy Bob’s Texas
June 19 - Ft. Worth, Texas, Billy Bob’s Texas
July 22 - Shakopee, Minn., Twin Cities Summer Jam
July 23 - Minot, N.D., North Dakota State Fair
Aug. 9 - Canton, Ohio, Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium
Aug. 10 - Jackson, MI, Jackson County Fair
Aug. 13 - Atlanta, Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood
Aug. 14 - Cullman, Ala., Rock The South
Aug. 19 - Canandaigua, N.Y., CMAC
Aug. 20 - Bethel, N.Y., Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
Aug. 22 - Wildwood, N.J., Barefoot Country Music Festival
Aug. 27 - Holmdel, N.J., PNC Bank Arts Center
Aug. 28 - Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Saratoga Performing Arts Center
Sept. 3 - Paducah, Ky., Touchdowns and Tunes Tailgate Party
Sept. 4 - Durant, Okla., Choctaw Grand Theater
Sept. 17 - Selbyville, Del., Freeman Arts Pavilion
Sept. 18 - Doswell, Va., After Hours Concerts at the Meadow Event Park
Sept. 23 - Mansfield, Mass., Xfinity Center
Sept. 27 - Morrison, Colo., Red Rocks Amphitheater
Oct. 1 - Irvine, Calif., FivePoint Amphitheater
Oct. 2 - Laughlin, Nev., Laughlin Event Center
Oct. 8 - Noblesville, Ind., Ruoff Music Center
Oct. 9 - Cincinnati, Ohio, Riverbend Music Center
Nov. 5 - Knoxville, Tenn., Thompson Boling Arena
Nov. 6 - Charleston, W.V., Charleston Coliseum
Nov. 13 - Greensboro, N.C., Greensboro Coliseum
Nov. 14 - Daytona Beach, Fla., Welcome to Rockville
Nov. 19 - Bossier City, La., Brookshire Grocery Arena