- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 25, 2018

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s next tour will be its last, closing the door on a live career that started more than 40 years ago and helped make the band one of the best-selling Southern rock groups in the genre’s history.

The group will begin its “Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour” on May 4 in West Palm Beach, Florida, and the first leg of the “career-concluding” trek includes performances scheduled in dozens of cities throughout the U.S. this summer, the band announced Thursday.

“It’s hard to imagine, after all these years, the band that Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins and myself started back in Jacksonville, would resonate for this long and to so many generations of fans,” said Skynyrd co-founder Gary Rossington, 66, the only original group member in the current lineup. “I’m certain they are looking down from above, amazed that the music has touched so many.”

Formed in Jacksonville in 1964, the band found fame a decade later following the release of its 1973 debut, “Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd,” thanks largely to the success of songs including “Gimme Three Steps” and “Free Bird.” The band’s sophomore album released the following year contained perhaps its most well-known tune, “Sweet Home Alabama,” and the group performed and recorded throughout the decade until a 1977 airplane crash claimed the lives of several band members, including Van Zant and Collins, its singer and guitarist, respectively.

Mr. Rossington reformed Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1987 with several former members and vocalist Johnny Van Zant, the late singer’s younger brother, and the group has remained active ever since.

“[W]e’ve been blessed by these great songs and the messages they carry to the fans. It’s been a true honor to try and fill in my brother’s footsteps for the past 31 years, keeping the music and his spirit, alive,” said Mr. Van Zant, 58.

Lynyrd Skynyrd was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, and the band’s first five studio albums have each sold at least 500,000 copies.

The rock stalwarts will be joined on their upcoming tour by performers including Kid Rock, Hank Williams Jr., Charlie Daniels Band, Bad Company, Marshall Tucker Band, 38 Special, Blackberry Smoke and Blackfoot, according to concert promoters. Tickets are slated to go on sale Feb. 2, with additional information and tour dates expected to be made at a later date.

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s farewell tour announcement Thursday happened on the heels of a handful of similar revelations this week from artists tossing in the towel. Neil Diamond said Monday he’s retired from touring effective immediately, and Elton John and metal group Slayer subsequently announced farewell tours of their own this week.

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