An Interview with
of Lynyrd Skynyrd (and founder member of Blackfoot)
that took place on Wednesday, December 12th, 2007
at Studio Sea, Fort Myers, Fl. USA.
Interviewed By Glenn Milligan.
Glenn: What was a major highlight for you in Blackfoot with regard to gigs?
Rickey: Donington 1981 – With us (Blackfoot), Whitesnake & AC/DC. Oh god, there was a ton of people on there. We were actually called in the press “The Baby band of Donington. We went out and f*ck*n’ tore it u. At that point when I saw that show, I knew that we had stepped into it – we had a stronghold. I knew that we had a following. We did other festivals like in Germany in Nuremburg – we played a festival over there – once again, walked out there and just impaled it. It was so funny because Motorhead was there. This was when Lemmy had the original Motorhead and those guys came out and watched us. When we got down offstage Lemmy was like ‘You gotta come up and see us play – stand at the side of the stage. Man, loudest f*ck*n’ band I ever heard in my life.
Rickey: You know what I mean.
Glenn: I can vouch for that – When I’ve taken photos of the 1st 3 songs, just the volume of the monitors alone, like f*ck*n’ ‘ell. It’s like J*s*s Chr*st.
Rickey: You know what, the point of it all is, is that people were going like hell and the audience frikkin’ loved ‘em. They loved all that stuff. They were such magical moments in time for us. I mean, here’s a little old band from Florida, never been out the United States and the next thing you know we’re over in Europe and opening for the Scorpions because what had happened was, The Scorpions had come over here and had opened for (Ted) Nugent and us – like it was (Ted) Nugent, we were the special guests, then ‘Scorpions’.
Everyone was like, ‘Who the f*ck is this?’ and this was on our 1st record over here. We got to be such good friends with them that when they went back over there (Europe) they had us on their whole English Tour and we did the whole English Tour and we saw all them guys accept us. It was like, ‘Where did these guys come from?’ as in us, we knew right then that there was a world of difference between us and them over here – right away. It didn’t matter about radio over there – it was all about word of mouth and press. That’s what it was due to. It freaked us out and we had a great time with those guys. They treated us great and I’m friends with Rudy today. It’s funny how you make these long-lasting relationships with these guys that last like just forever.
Now Paul Rodgers, that’s OK - On the ‘Strikes’ record we had ‘Wishing Well’ on there and this was like my hero.
Glenn: And you always wanted to meet him because of that?
Rickey: Well, here was one of my heroes and vocal heroes and I was like ‘Son of a B*tch’ you know, so what happened was I had never met the guy, Right?
Rickey: So what happened was, we played Reading.
Rickey: And Jon Lord was there and I knew Lordy. (Laughs) We’re standing there because Blackfoot had done the ‘Perfect Strangers’ Tour with Deep Purple over here, so what happened, I saw Jon Lord, I said, ‘Jon, how ya doin’, ‘Oh great man, how’s everything goin?’. He says, ‘You wanna go over to the tent over here to get a pint?, I’m gonna get some beers in and going over there to see Paul Rodgers’. ‘What?’, then Jon goes, ‘Yeah, he’s over there in the tent’ and I got to talk to Paul about this, this is great man. So I go, ‘Oh meet Paul Rodgers, yeah, let’s go’. So he takes me over there. Paul is about 10 sheets to the wind man – he’s already had enough pints to last him for the rest of the week. So Jon Lord walks up to him and goes, “Paul, let me introduce you to a friend of mine” – you know he’s like ‘Who’s your friend?”, like a real miserable f*ck*r you know, all of a sudden Jon looks at me and says, ‘This is Rickey Medlocke from Blackfoot’, ‘Blackfoot!’ and he kinda gave me this look and he says, “I don’t wanna talk to him right now’ and I just kinda looked then at my end too and all of a suddenly went (makes a rude noise), “You know what, I don’t wanna talk to you either”. Jon Lord starts lookin’ at me and says, “Paul Rodgers is supposed to be a bad-ass little f*cker, did you know”, “F*ck him man”, and I walked off.
Later in ‘Skynyrd’ all of a sudden, the tours like 7 or 8 years ago, lo and behold, here’s The Paul Rodgers Band opening for us. (Laughs). I thought, ‘Wow, this is gonna be cool man. So they showed up. That day out at the pool, here comes Paul Rodgers out to pool, I lean out to him and say, “Paul, I’m Rickey Medlocke, I used to be with Blackfoot”. “Oh man, how you doin?’, I went, ‘Doing good man”, I said “Do you remember meeting me back at the Reading Festival back in about ’80 (or) ’81?”. He goes, “No, I was probably p*ss*d drunk then.”. I went, “Yeah – you were really p*ssy drunk – le me tell you what happened” and I told him the story and he goes, “You’ve got to be f*ck*ng kidding me, I said that?” and I went, “You said that” and I said (Starts laughing), I said, “F*ck you, I don’t give a f*ck about talking to you either” and you know what, we’ve been great friends ever since. We’ve been great friends – I love him to death man, he’s just a great friend. In fact, I along with Carol, one of our backgirl singers, we introduced him to his wife now.
Rickey: Cynthia. But Paul, I love him to death man – he’s just a wonderful human being.
Glenn: What influenced you as a guitarist and why?
Rickey: Well, what happened actually was that my Grandfather Shorty, he basically, he was an old Mississippi blues delta, bluegrass country player. Had bands all of his life. In that band there was some great musicians and growing up around there, I mean, first of all I learnt to play banjo first at the age of 3. I played on the television show with him from the time I was 3 til I was 8. It was called ‘The Toby Downing Show’ out of Jacksonville. Then with his band, he had a couple of guitar players – he had this one guitar player named Dean O’Neil who was a lefty and I actually started out playing left-handed and then so what happened was my old man showed me 3 chords – Probably because I was playing it left handed at the time and he didn’t play left handed and he was like, “OK kid, you are playing left handed but you know I can’t show you sh*t if you are playing left-handed but he showed me G, C & D and he goes, “OK, you’re on your own”.
So looking at those guitar players like Dean and couple of those other guys that played with him, I was pickin’ stuff up here and there – you’re in there and then I was about 5 years old and my parents got me my first transistor radio which believe it or not I still have it and it took one of those great big 9 Volt batteries that you put in. What I would do is I would tune that in W-APE which was the radio station in Jacksonville at the time and put it on my pillow and I’d listen to my radio at night. My parents would cut it off, move it – well, then Elvis at the time, Jerry Lee Lewis at the time, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash – I mean these are all the old rockabilly guys that was going and Elvis – you know you listen to that stuff and that gets into you and tried to start emulating all the guitar what I was hearing and that started it from there.
Actually I got my first electric guitar – my parents bought me a K-Guitar – a set up – two of them. What was so cool about it was that it had an old soap-bar pick-up on it but the chord was stationary up through the body and ran out of it. It was a stationary chord.
Rob: It was hardwired.
Rickey: It was hardwired into the guitar it self. So that’s when I started learning on electric guitar. Then my dad got me one of those piggyback silvertones that had six pins in it and that’s what I was playing through.
Rob: You wish you had that now.
Rickey: Oh god I do. I still got it. So what ended up happening was is that I just kept playing a little on, a little on, a little on dude and then in 1962 we had moved to a different neighbourhood and we were still in the west side of Jacksonville. But then one night I’m sitting in front of the TV and Buddy Holly had died and all those guys had perished in that plane crash a couple of years ago but… So here it is 1962 – nothing much really going on in Rock ‘n’ Roll at the time. We were in need of a changed – something needed to happen. I’m sat watching the Walter Cronkite’s Evening News, sitting in my dads chair – easy chair and all of a sudden you hear Walter Cronkite go, “We’ll be back, stay tuned, our correspondent in London’s gonna be reporting on a phenomenon called ‘Beatlemania’ but live. I thought, ‘What the f*ck is that?’. So I thought it was some sort of bug disease over there. They come back, the switch to him and there’s these four guys with runnin’ from all these girls, all this music is playing and I’m listening to this thing man on black and white television. I’m looking at this and I’ve got the guitar in my hand and hearing this song ‘She Loves You’ and I’m like, ‘What is it?’ then all of a sudden ‘I want to hold your hand’ is on there. They gave them a pretty good bit of time on there. So I was like “The Beatles! Beatles?” and I saw how their hair was. Mine was all slick back like Elvis at the time and I’m looking at this going “This is cool man”. So my dad come home that night and I told him about it and he goes, “Beatle’s – what kind of damn name is that?, so I said, “It’s spelt ‘B E A T L E S’ – not like the bug. All of a sudden sure enough, what - less than a year later – BOOM! – it exploded over here and now, all of a sudden there was Ed Sullivan, all out of here (the USA), the next thing you know they are all on Ed Sullivan and I’m watching The Beatles live on Ed Sullivan and thinking ‘Oh my god, look at these four guys’ – that did it, I mean that started it. My guitar playing instead of a more of a country kind of blues thing took on more of a rock thing at the time more of a blues thing and so forth and so. The next thing I know – The Beatles and all the British Invasion happened – going along, going on.
Then all of a sudden, with the going on thing I hear a band called ‘The Yardbirds’ and I was like ‘Oh man’. I loved it, ‘Now who’s playing guitar in this now?’ Doing a little investigating, how you usually do, bought all The Yardbirds records, you know I had all The Beatles whatever – you know, records back then and the next thing you know along comes Hendrix and I will never forget the day that I heard ‘Purple Haze’. I’m riding out to this friend of mines, Howie Renegy that played drums at the time with me in my band when I was like 16 almost 17. So I’m listening to W-AKE and they go, ‘Here’s a brand new recording from a artist called ‘The Jimi Hendrix Experience’ and it came on and I cracked that sucker up in my parents car and I am listening to this thing man and I am just floored over this. I get to my buddies house and I’m like ‘Are you listening to the big AKE, did you hear that’, he said, ‘Yeah’. We were just like ‘Oh my god’. That weekend I went down to the record bar ‘Boom’ and bought the record.
Well now all of a sudden like my little sister, like my little sister is five years younger than I am, she’s into the frikkin’ Monkees, you know, and all that teenybopper sh*t. So I had a niece and she was into it - so the Monkees were coming to town. So we got tickets to go see ‘The Monkees’ to take my sister and niece and I’m like ‘Oh my god’ (laughs), ‘I got to see this all night?’. No opening act. It said no special guest star, no nothing. We get to Jacksonville Coliseum, the house lights go down, the stage lights come up and all of a sudden you hear, ‘Ladies and Gentleman please welcome ‘The Jimi Hendrix Experience’. This was one, he was supposed to do a tour with ‘em, he did four shows with ‘em and I saw one of them in Jacksonville and I’ll never forget this man, it was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in all of my life. He walks up – the kids were booing him like crazy man, you know and I’m like, I turn round to my little sister and I said, ‘Oh I’m gonna kill ya!’ I put my head over her frikkin’ mouth man and all of a sudden, I think he’d played 3 songs, maybe 4 songs and at the end of the last one he took his guitar and it’s just wide open – he’s doing that (makes a wailing noise) and all of a sudden he just took it off and he screamed string and he threw it straight up man and it came down and it bounced onto the stage – you know and it’s feeding back and the kids are like ‘Aahhhh!’. He stepped up to the microphone and he went Peace (Rickey does peace sign) and Love (with middle finger on other hand) and he turned round and he walked off. Right after that he quit – he quit the tour.
Rickey: Well then came The Cream, then came ‘Zeppelin, then came all these bands and that right there, you know is what did it for me. My three favourite guys – Hendrix, Clapton and Jeff Beck and I still listen to Beck a load today. To me, he’s from a different planet. He’s such a gifted individual man. He can a play a guitar – there’s nobody to me like Jeff Beck. But that’s how it started with me and of course ZZ Top, Billy Gibbons is a friend of mine and I love Billy’s playing. There’s a lot of guys that I listen to today and I love their playing but those guys probably influenced me the most in my life.
Glenn: So I suppose you turned to your southern rock because of your roots as well and you brought your roots and you brought in a heavier sound…
Glenn: ..and you’ve got your rock sound and then you’ve got your own crazy thing.
Rickey: Yeah it’s interesting because the blues really plays a big part of it. When I was growing up my Grandaddy would listen to people like Mississippi John Hurt and Huddie Leadbetter and Son House and Robert Johnson and all these people – like he had all these old records. Then he’d listen to a lot of the country guys – so his influence was there – thereal roots and recently we just did this show for C & T – that tribute to Hank Junior and Buddy Guy was there. Me and Gary Rossington spent about 45 minutes in Buddy Guy’s dressing room talking to him and I gotta tell ya – that was the coolest because he was saying how he remembers Mississippi John Hurt, got to meet him and got to play with him one time and I was like flippin’, I was like, “Oh you gotta be kidding, Oh!” but Buddy was so cool man, so very, very cool.
Glenn: That’s like you being a fan of a rock star?
Rickey: Dude – Yeah.
Glenn: Cause we’re all fans of somebody.
Rickey: I mean, if you’re not a fan, if you really a rocker and you’re in a famous band, you gotta be a fan of somebody.
Rickey: Cause that’s your influence. So okay. There ya go – I mean I wish Hendrix was still alive. I wish I could be around Clapton a lot or Jeff Beck. You know I’ve been around Billy (Gibbons of ZZ Top) quite a bit but I mean these guys to me were just the cats ass! You know what I mean.
Rickey: To me and it’s still today.
Glenn: How did you originally meet the guys in Lynyrd Skynyrd in the early days?
Rickey: Well with ‘Skynyrd it was is that we all grew up on the west side of Jacksonville together. I knew the guys basically from being in the same neighbourhood. Those guys were.. they went to Lehab school, I went to Paxon or they went to Forest. Anyway I went to Paxon High School but when we all started playing the teen centres. I had a band or I was in and out of bands. They had a band. Everybody was into music, everybody played all the teen clubs – The Comic Book Club… whatever and my very first gig for Lynyrd Skynyrd actually it was ‘The One Percent’, actually I was their light man for or about 2 or 3 nights – that was my 1st gig with them actually. Then later on I would sit in with them and play drums for them a little bit here and there and there was Bob – you know, nothing much but we’d jam together. That’s what you did back then. Everybody just infiltrated.
Glenn: You were all friends?
Rickey: Yeah. Like for instance, when I was in the band ‘Fresh Garbage’, The Allman Brothers and Jack & Dewitt had Tangerine and the two bands ‘Tangerine’ and the three of us in Fresh Garbage, we merged and that’s what happened with Blackfoot but in the meantime ‘The Allman Brothers’ were forming, The Allmans would come in, in the afternoon and rehearse at The Comic Book Club and we’d loan them our equipment so they wouldn’t have to drag all their gear in. It worked out perfect and those were the days in Jacksonville and it was magic in Jacksonville because you had a lot of bands there, a lot of bands. So that’s how I gotta be, I mean I got to be friends with those guys because we were all so young. I think the first time I met Ronnie (Van Zant), Gary and Allen I was probably 15/16 years old and here we are. I mean for everything that Gary is or he isn’t, he’s still an incredible individual I think, that’s my opinion. There something there about him that’s magical for me. I call him the ‘Keith Richards of the Southern Rock World’ because the guy’s been through hell and high water and he’s still here and for whatever you think about him as a guitar player when he goes on stage and plays in ‘Skynyrd it’s that classic sound of his that everybody knows and loves. You know what I mean?
Glenn: Yeah, totally.
Rickey: So he made magic back then with those guys and I love being on stage and playing with him. You know what, I was asked on a DVD in an Interview, ‘For you what was your greatest accomplishment in your life?’ Well I said to the guy, “You know what, selling all these records, playing for millions of fans all over – that’s another one but probably the single most greatest accomplishment that I’ve had in my life is that I have been able to share the stage with some of the worlds most incredible musicians. I mean, give or take, you know with whatever happened with Blackfoot. Still to this day I think Jackson Spires was one of the most talented individuals that I ever shared the stage with. Gregg and Charlie were talented man. Ronnie Van Zant – Yeah, Allen Collins, Gary Rossington, Billy Powell, Leon Wilkeson, I mean I was in bands with all these guys. I shared the stage with them, I know ‘em, I love ‘em. I’m glad I’m here to talk about it right now, you know, rather than the other, we’re here talking about it today. Something to be said for me and Gary Rossington and Billy Powell for all of us to sit in front of you and talk to you about that stuff because it could have been the other way around.
Glenn: What would you say your favourite times were when you formed Blackfoot?
Rickey: I think one of the major highlights that I can remember in Blackfoot, honestly, I mean the Donington thing. I’d have to look at it as country, as continent to continent. I think one of the biggest highlights for me in Europe was actually the Donington Festival when we first went over there and we played that festival. There was about 180,000 people there and they just loved us and it was like ‘What?’.
Glenn: It’s like a ‘make or break gig’ aint it?
Rickey: Right, right. The on before us was called ‘More’ but Al messin around with the Manager and they got pummelled and I was like ‘Oh sh*t!’
Rob: I heard somebody went back onstage for their guitar.
Rickey: But you know what, I knew from being with the Scorpions n stuff – I just had this feeling. They were already saying in the press that Blackfoot was gonna be the ‘Darling Of Donington’ and I kinda had that feeling that we were going to really shine that day because we were so ready for it and when they announced us and we walked out that crowd was unbelievable. We led into the 1st song man and it was over with. I mean it was done from the 1st song – that’s probably there.
Over here, probably my biggest highlight is probably after being over here and trying for so long to have success with the band. I remember that… I got a call from Al (Nally – Manager) and keep in mind the four of us guys being green to everything as we were except for road life. All of a sudden we knew we had a record that was either coming out or might be out or might not gonna come out – we didn’t know. Al was a guy who never used to promise us anything. He’d go, ‘We are gonna try’ and we were satisfied with that. At least we didn’t get another Manager promising at us that they were gonna do whatever and didn’t come through with it.
But I’ll never forget, we were playing a club – it was called ‘Sir Galahad’ in Connecticut but I’ll never forget it because you went in this club – it was in downtown and you went in and you went downstairs and it was nice club and they rock bands. So I’ll never forget the very first night we played there and it was on a Wednesday night and maybe we had 25 people in the club.
So I did not know they went for record ads on a Wednesday and so all of a sudden the next thing you know there is a record, all of a sudden they are going for record ads and stuff and I didn’t know this. I’d been in communication with Al and he said, ‘Well they are gonna work the record’ and they weren’t telling me sh*t. So and the band’s asking me, “What’s going on?”, “I don’t know, maybe we are getting f*ck*d over again or something, I don’t know”. So the next thing you know the kids at the club that (next) night, Thursday night now and we’re driving up to the club and I’m going, “What the f*cks goin’ on? Is somebody fighting or something?”, there’s this crowd of people down the street and round the corner and I’m like “F*ck’s goin’ on here?”. The rest of the guys were, “I don’t know, maybe it’s ladies night or something - this is what happens?”.
We didn’t know, so we had to play 3 sets. So we go in the club and the club owner comes back and he goes, “Man I gotta tell ya somethin’ guys, I wanna have you guys back, I don’t know what it is about you guys but all of a sudden all these people. I gotta have you guys for all next week and the following weekend”, and I went, “You gonna have to call our Manager”, “Yeah, oh I guess it’ll be alright”, “You gonna have to pay us the money”.
So while we’re playing I’m starting to see these f*ck*n’ red album jackets pop up and I’m lookin – and I’m lookin’ at these red album jackets, it’s got a snake on the front of it, I said, “God damn, that’s our albums, sh*t, it’s out !’.
We don’t listen to radio, bands refuse to listen to radio, f*ck radio you know?
Rickey: They ain’t gonna play us anyway. So we get there and usually our last set we would play a lot more originals, we’d play covers for the 1st two sets. Well god-damn, well from the 1st two sets people’s yellin’ out ‘Train, Train’ and there yelling out this song and I’m goin’, “How do they know these damn tunes?”. “Highway Song” was one they kept yellin’ for and once in a while you’d hear someone go ‘Train’ you know. Well what happened was, at the end of the night we decided to play them. Dude, we started playing stuff from off the record and f*ck*n’ people was goin’ crazy. I’m looking at this and next thing you know we led into ‘Train, Train’ – the place was up for grabs and we didn’t have the harmonica that was on the recording at the time to start it with.
Rob: You just went right into it?
Rickey: We just go into it. Then we played ‘Highway Song’ and it over. We walked off the stage and people out there are going “More” and the club owner comes back and goes “You guys gotta go out there and play another song”, he said, “I don’t know that the hell’s goin’ on here – you guys got a record out”. I went “Oh I think, yeah, aha, I think it might be doing something.”. So all of a sudden we went out there and played and went back to the hotel that night and I tried to call Al and I couldn’t get him. So the next day, we get up and do our routine. So that night at the club there’s f*ckin’ lines down the street. Lord then the night before, so here it is a Friday night and it was jam packed that night and we’re signing albums and all that stuff and finally on that Saturday night I get a phone call backstage from Al. I go, “I’ve been trying to call you, what’s been going on here?”. I said, “Man, this club is packed, the guy wants to hire us again, he wants to pay us a little bit extra money which we can use”, and he’s like, “Rickey, you tell that club owner if he’s got a problem with it, call me”, he goes, “I want you guys tonight to pack your stuff in your truck, the 2 roadies you got, pack it in your truck, get in your van and I want you to come to A&R. Come to town right now”. I went, ‘Tonight?”, he goes, “Tonight, you gotta be here, be here tomorrow”. I went, “Oh ok”. So the club owner comes back and goes, “Man, I gotta hire you guys” and I said, “We ain’t doin’ it” and he goes, “What!”, I said “Can’t do it, talk to our Manager, call him up, his name’s Al Nally, we gotta leave”. So we get in the van that night, we pack up our stuff…
Rob: You play the show?
Rickey: Yeah, we play the show and people are going crazy, so our crew packed up the truck while we got ready and everything and we had to go back and check in on all that stuff. So we got in our van, so John Barthalew was riding over here, he was driving, I was sitting in the front seat of the van, the guys were all the way back in the seat and the truck was following behind us. I think Ricky Reynolds was driving the truck, so we were on the highway man and John reaches over and turns on the radio and I’m sitting there laying in the thing trying to sleep. Next thing I hear (sings the ‘Highway Song’ riff) and it didn’t dawn on me because we didn’t think we was gonna get airplay or anything like that. So I’m sitting there and listening and I look at the radio and all of a sudden frikkin’ Jack(son Spires) wakes up and goes ‘Some f*ck*rs just ripped us off!’
I went over to Jack(son), “Shut the f*ck up man, that’s us”, “What?”.
(We laugh again)
Y’all we didn’t know sh*t man, god-damn any of us. We turned it up, we hear it there all the way across for the next ten to twelve hours. We heard it in every frikkin’ state in every town we come through, we’re coming into Toledo, we heard it on their rock station, coming out of Detroit on W-4 – we heard it on that damn thing. I get to the end of An Arbor and I stop at a payphone and call Al. “Al, what the f*ck?, I heard ‘Highway Song”, he goes, ‘I know, I know, you’ve heard it on just about every rock station you’ve tuned in on the radio’, I went, “Yeah, what’s up?’, he goes, “I gotta tell ya, I think you got one’, he said, “We are blowing records out of the distribution centres ten thousand every 5 days from every distribution centre”. I’m like, “What?”, he like “And especially Rochester, New York, they’re the ones that started it”. Well he goes, “I want you guys to check into the hotel at the Wolverine Inn at An Arbor, get some sleep and I’m gonna come into town later in the afternoon, me and Jay” and Jay was our Co-Manager over with Al, he said, “We’re comin’ in and we got something we wanna lay out in front of you guys”, “Oh OK”. So the guy who had bonussed us at the club the night before, you know the whole bit – man we were sh*tt*n’ the talk out this hard week dude.
Well Al comes, he goes, “Come down to the office Jay and I wanna talk to you”. We go down there and they have us a whole six week tour with Journey.
Rickey: Opening Act – Journey and us. Well 1st night is Kansas City, Kansas. We go out on that stage, we get 30 minutes. We went out there and every freakin’ song we played off that ‘Strikes’ record everybody reacted to and I tell you what my most memorable moment was is when we played ‘Train, Train’ and we walked off because we only had 2 minutes left in the set and the Road Manager comes over and goes, “Go back out, go back out”, I go, “We can’t our 30 minutes is up”, he goes “I say go back out and play one more” so we knew we were gonna play ‘Highway Song’, f*ck*n’ hit single son. We go back out and the people go crazy and right when I hit the note to ‘Highway Song’ the place was just electric. I turned around and looked at Jack and I had the chill, I looked at Jack and I went, “We got one!” and that was the defining moment in that bands history that I can think of right now other than the Donington thing. Right at that moment we knew all those years of trying to do something and struggling and starving and beating our heads against the wall, all it come down to was that one moment right there – magic, magical you know and the rest was history.
Glenn: Would you always say that’s your favourite album, the ‘Strikes’ album?
Rickey: I think my favourite record, yeah but really my favourite record that I had a lot of fun recording and I thought was a good record was ‘Marauder’. The ‘Marauder’ album was a lot of fun to put together. I enjoyed – me and Jack had such a great time writing that thing. You gotta understand me and Jack used to take these hiatus’s man and we’d go down to Mexico and get lost and we’d shack up with a bunch of people and drink a bunch of tequila and stuff like that and that’s where ‘Too Hard to Handle’ came from. When you’re in a rock band you do those kind of things – days ‘n’ nights sometimes ‘n’ whatever but hey, they make for great songs and to me, I love the ‘Marauder’ record – I really do to this day – I still do. I can listen to ‘Dry County’ and just love the sh*t out of it and I used to love to play it. ‘Dry County’ was created about 3:30 in the morning one night in Ann Arbor, Michigan snow up to about here out in the barn and I came in, me and Jack came in and just drunk and sh*t – I had that idea and I went, “Jack, let’s go out here I got a song I want us to write. So we went out there and I started showing it to him. It was cold man in that barn – we had turned the heat off and oh my god but we stood out there and we worked the song up and then we went back in, wet to bed and the next day we got Greg and Charlie in the barn and we worked it up – you Jack and I wrote the lyrics, we worked that sucker up and I went, “Yeah, this is it baby,”, Yep that was it. I’ll tell you right now AC/DC that we did – that tour with those guys – that was the influence for that tune and if you listen to it, you can hear that it’s AC/DC’ish – but that was a fun thing man.
Glenn: How’d you get on with those guys?
Rickey: Wonderful. We had that, everyone was cool about it man. Back in ’76, I think it was the ‘Flying High’ Tour – we did dates with AC/DC when Bon Scott was still alive. All of a sudden, a couple of years later, Bon died, a couple of years later here we are back out with AC/DC with Brian Johnson and we got along with those guys great. In fact I got a great shot of me and Jack and Angus and Malcolm and I’m standing there in between Angus and Malcolm with my arms over them. They are drinking and laughing and I got my arms on the top of their heads resting looking out ready to carry me off. But they were great guys, they really were. We were the most sought after opening act ever. I mean, (Ted) Nugent – we toured with (Ted) Nugent for 3 months, we toured with AC/DC for months on end. We did Journey, we did Foreigner, we did, oh my god we did just about everybody and it worked. We were pulling big tickets. I mean, you put us on a show and you were almost, you were guaranteed a sell-out. That was it.
Glenn: Cause you guys were on the show as well.
Glenn: They never saw you as a threat, they saw you as an extra draw to sell the tickets.
Rickey: A lift and what was cool was Nazareth back then was pretty heavy – they were probably drawing people and stuff like that at the time and I’ll never forget- we had a run of six or eight shows with them. 1st one was in Phoenix, Arizona and Pete the bass player would tell ya, they were cruising – it was their last six shows or whatever the tour and they were saying, Oh man, f*ck*n’ Blackfoot, who the f*ck is this, we don’t know this band, we’ll cruise, they ain’t gonna mess with us”. F*ck that, we were hell bent for leather to prove ourselves to everybody. So the way the story goes, the way Pete says it, they walk in and they hear us up there and the response is just unbelievable. I got the crowd wound up and I am just driving it home, I’m driving that nail in that coffin and I got the audience singing with us and raising hell and all that sh*t and my favourite thing used to be ‘If you’re not loud ‘n’ proud then shut the f*ck up, if you are let’s f*ck it up’ and people were will just go nuts. Well Pete walks in, he walks up to the side of the stage and he sees this and he wanders back to the dressing room and he goes, “We gonna need some energy from some place cause these f*ck*n’ guys aren’t kiddin – no they ain’t jokin’” He says, “That singer out there’s got these people where they are ripping sh*t up and throwing stuff all over the place, we’re gonna have a tough time going for us”. Well we wanted them to go ok on but we were cocky and everything you all see, so we come off the stage and a couple of them were standing there and we would come off and I’m just soakin’ wet. No shirt on man, I’m all drenched, we come off the stage, I looked at ‘em and I went, “Nazareth”, they go, “Yeah?”, “Follow that M*th*rf*ck*rs”
(We all laugh)
And that was our introduction to them and they went, “Who’s this m*th*erf*ck*r?”. You know its like ‘C*cky *rs*d Son Of A B*tch’. You know before they went out there - Oh sh*t – they were pulling out all the stops that night and for the last, all them other shows left, it was on ‘em every night. Every night I’d come off that stage and there’s Dan and I’d say, “Don’t forget, follow that M*th*rf*ck*r!”, Yeah ! (laughs). So it formed a great relationship with those guys man, it really did. We stayed friends with ‘em for years.
Glenn: I saw you guys (Lynyrd Skynyrd) at Sunfest, West Palm Beach, that was a good gig.
Rob: That’s the one you got hurt right?
Rickey: Yeah. I got hurt that night. Somebody… and low and behold would you believe I ran into the guy in a restaurant in frikkin’ Tuskaloo, Alabama. Right at the end of ‘Freebird’ we all come up to the front, we are standing there and I got my guitar up (neck upwards) and a f*ck*n’ guy rolled a guitar strap up and winged it and it hit me in the eye – the buckle part of it. Johnny (Van Zant) helped me get off the stage, they washed my eye out, the whole bit, but it cut it enough to where the skin was bumpy so every time I blinked my eye, I could feel it. I have to tell you that I had to go and get that shaved off. So what happened was I’m coming back from Mississippi, I got some property there in Columbus, I’m driving back and I stop at Cracker Bell. I go in Cracker Bell and people are looking, they always are always lookin at me, you know.
Glenn: (Whisper) Rickey’s in town!
Rickey: So I sit down at the table and I’m eating in there so (after) I get up and leave, leave the tips, people are coming up and saying “hello” to me. So I go to pay and a guy walks up to me and he goes, “Oh, I gotta talk to you a minute” and I’m like, ‘Yeah man, what’s goin’ on?”, he goes, “This last year in West Palm Beach”, I went, “Yep”, he goes, “I’m the guy that hit you with the guitar strap” and I went, “You m*th*rf*ck*r you!”, like that in front of his wife and she just went (Rickey pulls a surprised face), she straightened up and I went, “It’s ok dude, you got a little crazy, just don’t go rollin’ them f*ck*n’ things up”, he goes, “I know, I know – it was a bad idea”, I went, “Bad f*ck*n’ idea dude, real bad”, but do you know what, he bought my dinner for me.
(We all laugh)
You know a meal ticket, my bar, here we go, you know and he bought my breakfast, apologised, so forth and so on. I said, “Man, it’s fine, it’s fine, you don’t have to buy nothin’ for me”. He goes, “No, I feel better about it and he gave me a watch.
You gotta see this watch – it’s this watch that’s a Gibson Firebird – it’s beautiful. It was brand new and I go, “You don’t have to do that”, he goes “Hey, you can have my wife and my first born if you want”.
I go, “No, I don’t want your wife bro” but that happened at the West Palm Beach show.
Glenn: It was a good show that because you got you guys headlining, you got that band called ‘Rambler’,
Rickey: Mmm Hmm.
Glenn: You got your buddies and my buddies ‘Tribal Tongue’.
Rickey: Mmm Hmm. Yeah.
Glenn: And you got ‘Train’ as well and I never realised at the time that Johnny Colt was the bass guitarist in Train because I met Johnny in 1992 in Sheffield when he was in The Black Crowes.
Rob: That’s a good band, that is a good band.
Rickey: Oh yeah.
Glenn: How was it when you got your version of Blackfoot back together and you met up with Bryce and Johnny (of The Oysters - legendary Fort Myers Band). How did you meet up with those guys, I know Bryce was in Ohio.
Rickey: Well, you know what a lot of the guys that came in and went out of the band.. I mean I got the weirdest most ironic way of running into musicians. It’s a music thing anyway and right along toward the end with Bryce and all those guys. Al my Manager really wanted me to try it because he had been involved with Bryce and then there was John Housley and I knew John. Stet (Howland) was already playing with me. So they were putting together like a little thing on the side (3HB) so I said, “Yeah, let’s try it out”, amd we worked up a bunch of Blackfoot stuff and went out and played like that. It was cool. I think it was real different because the style, I mean John’s style is just real different anyway. I think that it was different to the point where people were kinda like, ‘Okay’, but it was good, I enjoyed it. It was short-lived because as we got it together and it started to roll all of a sudden I got the ‘Skynyrd thing’ – the Skynyrd thing came back in my life and so you know… That was it. But hey, great musicians once again, there you go – just being involved with great musicians. Well I found something on the internet the other day, it’s a version of Blackfoot with Mark Wopal, Denny Rapper and Tim Stenson – guys that I had playing with me for several years. We did a version of Procal Harum’s ‘Whiskey Train’ and it was bad to the bone. When the solos take off, especially when it rolls round to my solo, he would on this riff run down and it’s Clapton and the Cream – the way the rhythm section is playing behind me – unbelievable. I mean it really is. I mean there’s versions of the band, I mean I enjoyed it to the max because I wasn’t going to put together anything stupid. I was gonna make sure it held its end up and we went and we played our asses off. That’s what we do.
Glenn: Yeah, Stet says “Hi” and Christina.
Rickey: Yeah that’s cool. Stets is a character man – there’s no doubt about it.
Glenn: We all know. (Laughing)
Rickey: I could tell you some stories about him. I’ve seen that boy drunker than f*ck*n’ five skunks, no clothes on, just these floppy old combat boots walking across the parking lot.
Rob: With a bottle.
Rickey: With a bottle. I came damn near to leaving him in Shyanne, Wyoming.
Rob: We had the van in reverse, it turned around to back up and a yellow cab stopped us. He gets out, oh god, he’s paying and everything. (To Rickey) You remember that night in Virginia Beach. We were driving from Virginia Beach to Ann Arbor that night to take a break and I said to him, “If you are going out tonight, we are gonna leave that night – you have to be back”.
Rickey: I remember that.
Rob: Have to be back by 3 O Clock.
Rickey: Or we are all gonna be asleep.
Rob: We had given up his room, we’d given up his bed and everything (to Rickey) and you finally looked at me and said about 3.30, “Rob, it ain’t gonna happen – go back to the rooms and I was so p*ss*d and I waited and I waited and I waited and he had to show up.
Rickey: Oh yeah.
Rob: ... because it was a long drive that night and if we had to do it the next day we would probably get there just about a couple of hours before showtime.
Glenn: No soundcheck time is there.
Rob: No. He showed up blown out of his mind with some chick, I remember her name was Robyn and I remember he had this much left (like an inch) in a Jack Daniels bottle and they showed up and I lit into her. She goes, “What are you doin?’ and I said, “He doesn’t f*ck*n’ know any better but I told you – this was your idea”. I told Stet, “I hope you’re f*ck*n’ happy, we are leavin’ in the morning” and I said, “You don’t have a room”. He didn’t say a word, he crawled into the van and (to Rickey) you remember, he didn’t wake up until the next night up until around 6 O’clock. Rickey and I were driving and I looked at Rickey and we were finally done with being mad at him and Rickey says, “You go back and check and see if he’s actually alive”, and I said, “Yeah, I’ll go”. He didn’t p*ss or anything – in fact the sleeping back was there. He didn’t have a drivers licence so it was you and me and I went back and I said, “Hey, you gotta leak?”, “Oh no buddy, hey I’m fine”.
Stet was a machine man.
Rickey: Well what was really funny about all this, is that with all the versions of the band I have had and stuff, I mean there’s been so classic stuff that happened. There’s been some pretty bad stuff that happened and you know what, I look back on it and it was all fun. It really was. You thik that it’s bad at the time and you think you aren’t gonna survive certain things but you know what, it’s all a part of doing it. You know Billy Gibbons said something very, very interesting to me. One time he goes, “Rickey, I’m gonna ask you something, Do you agree that after you’ve made it and you are doing all this stuff, you know and you’re making money and this, think about it, the most fun you had was getting there”. And it was. I mean the getting there is where the experience and the memories are laid and a lot of stuff. After you get there then that’s when the pressures and the b*llsh*t starts. You know what I mean. So he’s right about that. Getting there is the fun of it.
Glenn: What was it like being back in Lynyrd Skynyrd, going from a lighting guy and drummer to being a main guitarist in the band?
Rickey: Well honestly - it was easy for me because I always and Gary (Rossington) said this at the time when I got back in the band was my style and Allen (Collins) style was very similar so it was only natural that when he replaced the guitar player this time he was gonna make a serious move and he had already got Hughie (Thomasson) and Gary goes, “Ok, wait a minute, I get to pick one”, and he goes, “I’m taking Rickey”. I promised Gary from day one that, “I’ll be there til the last note that Skynyrd struck if that’s what it takes and I’ll do it just like Allan did it – I’ll to stay as close to what Allen played it as anybody” which you should because that’s the guy – Yeah – and it’s worked. I mean, so far, so good. So you know what man, it is what it is. I mean I would like to see the band get into recording – writing and recording and get something ready. From what I understand ‘CMC’ got bought by and (also) Sanctuary got bought by Universal. Now they are trying to find out if our budget if our budget is gonna be paid for by Universal - like Universal New York or Universal South or Universal whatever. But anyway, they are trying to figure all that out and once they set on who’s gonna figure out the budget on who’s gonna pay it. We are gonna get some of the budget and it’ll be in writing. We’ll work on that on doing the same thing that everybody else is doing. Doing it one thing at a time basically to releasing a single. Finding the greatest single, relaseing a single and seeing where it goes from there – we’ll see.
Glenn: Yeah and when you’ve not got a pen in your hand or a guitar in your hand you’ve got a fishing rod.
Rickey: Oh yeah. I’m big into fishing, there’s no doubt about it. Also I’ve got an agreement to do a film in March supposedly in England and Scotland about swordsmen. It’s a serious film being made by National Lampoon of all people – National Lampoon always makes goofyesque films but this is gonna be one of the 1st serious films they’ve done. It’s called ‘The Swordsman’ and I’d have to train with a sword for like a couple of weeks. You gotta be in real good shape or you get worn out. You gotta be able to ride a horse which I do. Riding a horse is like riding a bicycle – once you get on a horse you know how to do it. But soon I have some tv stuff. For me I like to stay busy. I can’t be off the road and just sit. It drives me nuts. So that’s what I do.
Yep - that's what Rickey surely do does.
A big thankyou to Rickey for
taking time out to hang with us at his Studio, his Studio Manager Rob,
Rickey's Manager, Al Nally and my buddy Rick Wilson (Guitarist of NV
& Violent Storm) for the transportation of my good self!