Lynyrd Skynyrd's Gary Rossington Says Not to Get Too Sad Over Farewell Tour: 'We're Just Winding It Down a Little Bit'

Lynyrd Skynyrd
John Shearer/Getty Images for Webster Public Relations

Lynyrd Skynyrd's Johnny Van Zant and Gary Rossington perform at the Charlie Daniels' 2015 Volunteer Jam at Bridgestone Arena on Aug. 12, 2015 in Nashville, Tenn. 

Lynyrd Skynyrd's Gary Rossington says fans shouldn't get too weepy about the group's upcoming Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour.

At least not yet. "This farewell tour will take a year or two to go all the places we've been and play them one more time, so it's not like we're going away," Rossington, Skynyrd's sole surviving original member, tells Billboard. "We're just winding it down a little bit. We'll be doing this a while longer."     

And the guitarist holds out the possibility that the tour -- which starts May 4 in West Palm Beach, Fla. and will include performances in Europe as well as North America -- may lead even Rossington and his bandmates to reconsider.      

"Y'know...maybe," he says. "I know we're going to take some time off after this farewell tour that's all planned, and then who knows. Even, like, the Eagles and a lot of people retire for a year or two and they have to come back. It's just in your blood, y'know? So I don't know if it's really ever gonna end, but his is a plant to start to. Even if the touring ends we'll still do special shows and special guest things here and there with the whole band."    

Skynyrd plans to play dates with a number of its famous friends, including Bad Company, ZZ Top, Hank Williams Jr., Kid Rock, the Charlie Daniels Band, Marshall Tucker and others, as well as "a lot of special guests," according to Rossington.   

The group also has "a lot of big plans (for) last kind of goodbye things here and there, special things," including a CMT-produced documentary and a new studio album, the follow-up to 2012's Last Of A Dyin' Breed.    

"We have a lot of songs we've written through the years and we write a little bit here and there and have a few new songs we're gonna do," Rossington reports. "We're gonna write a little  bit more in the next few months and go in and record real quick and try to get our last CD to be the best one and go out on a high note and make it as good as we can and work our butts of to do it." No projected release date has been determined for the project, however."

Rossington's health is among the leading reasons Skynyrd has decided to start the long goodbye. He's publicly acknowledged heart issues that have forced the band to cancel shows in recent years, and he's not the only one feeling the passage of time -- 45 years, in fact, since Skynyrd's debut album (Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd) came out.

"We've been doing this a long time and we're getting older and it's really hard touring and traveling," Rossington acknowledges. "There's just health problems and things going on now where it's hard to go out for months at a time.

"My health isn't very great, so it's harder for me to tour these days, and everyone's got kids and families and grandkids now," he continues. "So we're just gonna kick back a little bit because of our age, and I just want to go out on a high note and make sure the band's name stays in high regard instead of going out and playing fairs and casinos and things like that. I want to live it still filling arenas and sheds like we still can."

When the time comes to call it a day, however, Rossington is sure one last flight of "Free Bird" will be what Skynyrd ends on. "It's how we always finish the shows, so I can't see doing anything but that," he says.