Racists Ruined the Confederate Flag for Lynyrd Skynyrd

Alexander Abad-Santos
Sep 21, 2012

To the last original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, abandoning the Confederate flag signified the band cutting its ties to racism, the Ku Klux Klan and skinheads. To some of the band’s fans, it meant cutting ties to Lynyrd Skynyrd. "Well they just turned their backs on their core group of fans, that will really help sell out show," reads a comment from one-former Lynyrd Skynyrd fan in a report from The Wall Street Journal. "Good luck with your next release ‘Sweet home Massachusetts.’ I am sure it will climb the charts with a bullet in Yankee-land," reads another in a Los Angeles Times report from August Brown, who also found this gem: "This isn’t the real Lynyrd Skynyrd anyway. They should have taken a name like ‘Obama’s Politically Correct Sell Your Soul Make Believe Impostors’ or something."

The reason reporters are scouring online forums, fanpage comments, and Twitter is because the last surviving original member of the hard-to-spell band which brought you Southern anthems "Free Bird" and "Sweet Home Alabama", Gary Rossington, has made a pledge to stop associating the band (himself) with the Confederate flag. It’s a big move since part of the reason the Confederate flag has remained popular (at least in rock n roll) was because Lynyrd Skynyrd’s use of the flag in concerts and memorabilia (back when Rossington didn’t think it was associated with the KKK and raging racists). "Through the years, people like the KKK and skinheads kinda kidnapped the Dixie or Southern flag from its tradition and the heritage of the soldiers, that’s what it was about," Rossington told CNN earlier this month. "We didn’t want that to go to our fans or show the image like we agreed with any of the race stuff or any of the bad things." Lynyrd Skynyrd giving up the Confederate flag, Neil Young being sober–there’s totally a concert joke in here somewhere.

Copyright © 2012 by The Atlantic Monthly Group

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