Johnny Van Zant - vocals; Danny Clausman - bass; Robbie Gay - guitar; Eric Lundgren - guitar; Robbie Morris - drums; Brian Heatherington - keyboards
Johnny Van Zant, who would later take over his older brother Ronnie's spot in the revamped Lynyrd Skynyrd, was still fronting his own Southern hard rock band when this show (and two others from the same tour) were recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour in 1985. Van Zant would attempt to keep his solo career going for another few years before getting frustrated with the music industry and quitting to drive a truck.
Johnny was just beginning with his solo career (with extensive help and mentoring from his late brother, Ronnie, and older brother, Donnie of 38 Special) when the Skynyrd plane crashed and left the two younger brothers to pick up the pieces. Johnny had already secured a record deal with Mercury Records, but after the death of his most famous brother, he was constantly living and performing in his shadow.
As you will hear, Van Zant was more of an '80s metal group than a Southern Rock band. "Midnight Sensation," "No More Dirty Deals," "You Gotta Believe," "Heart To The Flame," and "Rock Survivors" are typical of the MTV-era music that bands like Winger and Whitesnake made, but lack the radio friendly pop elements that those acts usually incorporated in their music. Only on "Standing In The Darkness," written about the death of his older brother, does Johnny really shine.
Before he joined up with the remaining surviving members of Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1987 to revive that classic rock franchise (as the replacement for his late brother, Ronnie), Johnny Van Zant had a budding Southern Rock solo career, with Van Zant. He was just beginning when the Skynyrd plane crashed in 1977, but the notoriety he received from being Ronnie's youngest brother kept the momentum going for his solo career a few years after that.
When the surviving members of Skynyrd decided to reform and tap Johnny Van Zant for the lead vocalist spot, there was apprehension from fans and critics alike. The pairing was an obvious choice because Skynyrd has carried on as one of the most successful classic bands of all time. Though he continues to release the occasional solo album, he has seen the biggest success outside of Lynyrd Skynyrd by way of a country music project done with his other brother, Donnie, in which he revived the Van Zant band name.