As the lone surviving founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, guitarist Gary Rossington says he's profoundly moved by the release of "God & Guns," the Southern rock icons' first set of new material in six years.
"The feeling is just overwhelming," Rossington tells Billboard.com. "I didn't mean to be the last original or the last one, but here it is. It's very heavy. I'm just extra lucky to still be here...so I feel a responsibility to carry on the Skynyrd name and let people hear our music, newcomers and old, as long as they want to hear it."
Skynyrd has lost four members this decade. Leon Wilkeson, the group's bassist since 1972, died from emphysema and liver disease in 2001. Guitarist Hughie Thomasson suffered a fatal heart attack in 2007 (after he'd left Skynyrd to re-form his original band, the Outlaws), and keyboardist Billy Powell passed away in January from a suspected coronary arrest. Ean Evans, Wilkeson's replacement, died in May after being diagnosed with cancer in late 2008.