When you think Lynyrd Skynyrd, you automatically think of Ronnie and Johnny Van Zant. Ronnie helped co-found the group, and served as its lead vocalist and primary songwriter. Well-respected for his multiple talents, the world was devastated when Ronnie was killed in a plane crash in 1977.
Once Skynyrd reunited in 1987, Johnny stepped up as Skynyrd’s new lead singer. He has remained the band’s frontman for the past 30 years, leading the charge every time they step out on stage.
With the exception of just a few tunes, all of Skynyrd’s songs have been sung by either Ronnie or Johnny. But the two have taken a backseat to other vocalists before. Ronnie, for example, had guitarist Steve Gaines sing lead on the song “Ain’t No Good Life,” which appeared on Skynyrd’s album Street Survivors.
During Skynyrd’s early days, another talented vocalist offered his voice to a few tracks that he penned for the group. Devoted Skynyrd fans know this fella well. He was, and is, none other than Rickey Medlocke, who is currently one of Skynyrd’s three guitarists.
Rickey was with Skynyrd from 1971-1972, but left before they released their first studio album (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd) in 1973. He served as the frontman for the Southern rock group Blackfoot and chased other projects until he rejoined Skynyrd in 1996.
Although Rickey is now a guitarist for Skynyrd, that isn’t how he started out with the group. He first joined as a drummer, and also played mandolin on occasion. In addition to his instrumental work, Rickey also offered his singing and songwriting skills to Skynyrd.
In 1978, Skynyrd released an album titled Skynyrd’s First and… Last, which contained the group’s recordings from 1971-1972. The album was repackaged and issued with additional songs in 1998. The new album, titled Skynyrd’s First: The Complete Muscle Shoals Album, contains five tunes written by Medlocke alone. Considering the fact that Ronnie wrote almost everything that Skynyrd recorded prior to the plane crash, the release of these tracks was like opening up a whole new world for Skynyrd’s fans.
All the more remarkable is the fact that Ronnie didn’t sing lead on all of the Muscle Shoals songs. Rickey got the chance to offer his voice to a few of the tunes, including the stunning track “White Dove.”
If we had to name a hidden gem in Skynyrd’s collection, “White Dove” would definitely be one of them. Only the most hardcore and devoted Skynyrd fans know of its beauty, making it a rare and treasured track.
You can listen to Rickey take the lead on this spectacular tune in the audio clip below. Skynyrd never fails to blow us away!