Lynyrd Skynyrd Members Reveal Emotional Response to Documentary
The members of Lynyrd Skynyrd have fought hard to control the way their story is told onscreen, but with the new documentary If I Leave Here Tomorrow, it looks like there's finally a movie about the band they can be happy with.
Skynyrd members Gary Rossington and Johnny Van Zant opened up about their responses to If I Leave Here Tomorrow after the movie's premiere at this year's South by Southwest film festival program, expressing appreciation for its balanced approach to the band's many ups and downs — and admitting that watching their story up on the big screen was enough to leave them feeling deeply emotional.
"All the other documentaries were negative, and they really didn’t show how when we started, we were brothers," Rossington told Yahoo! Entertainment. "We’d die for each other. We grew up together, you know? We were so happy, and it was a family. [Other films] made it sound like we were all mad at each other. It wasn’t like that at all."
"I think you take any big family out here — go ahead, take a poll — and there’s going to be death, there’s going to be tragedy," added Van Zant. "Gregg Allman said it best. He said, ‘If you live long enough, you’re going to experience tragedy and triumphs.’ That’s what Lynyrd Skynyrd’s been, and what Allman’s been too. It wouldn’t be Lynyrd Skynyrd without that, you know? That’s God’s will and His way, and that’s why we’re sitting here today."
If I Leave Here Tomorrow, which is being presented by CMT and should work its way toward a broadcast and DVD premiere following the festival, arrives after a contentious legal battle to block former Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle from telling his side of the story through a film that was to be titled Street Survivors. Although that project was ultimately derailed, Pyle spoke with Leave Here director Stephen Kijak — and whatever bitterness surrounded efforts to depict the Skynyrd saga in recent months, Rossington had only positive words after the premiere.
"I see all the memories and they’re alive; they’re like jumping beans in my brain. It’s weird," Rossington admitted. "I won’t be shy to say I cried a few times — you can’t not, if you were part of it, you know? My daughters were all crying. They made me cry: ‘You never told us about this stuff, Daddy!’"