We’re sending out big birthday wishes to Lynyrd Skynyrd vocalist Johnny Van Zant today!
The youngest of the Van Zants, Johnny had big musical shoes to fill, as his older brothers were founding Skynyrd member Ronnie Van Zant and .38 Special’s Donnie Van Zant.
While his older brothers had already made a big splash in the rock world, they were always there to support Johnny. At age 15, he started playing the drums, but he soon switched to vocals, with his brother Ronnie once remarking that his little bro had the best voice in the family.
Not long after, Johnny formed his first group, the Austin Nickels Band, which Ronnie helped shepherd until his untimely death in a plane crash in ‘77. After his brother passed away, Donnie took over advising the band until they recorded their first album in 1980.
The band– now known as the Johnny Van Zant Band or simply Van Zant – produced four successful albums. Then Johnny took a musical hiatus for a few years, during which time he drove a truck for a living.
In the late ‘80s, Johnny rejoined the music scene, when he was asked to take over for his brother Ronnie as Skynyrd’s vocalist on one tour, after which he joined the iconic group permanently.
In recent years, Johnny has been working heavily with Skynyrd. With him, the band is currently signed by Roadrunner Records and is still producing new rock!
The band has a few select tour dates taking later this spring across the U.S. Their most recent release came two years ago, when Lynyrd Skynyrd released Last of a Dyin’ Breed, showing that they’ve still got that Southern Rock style!
So happy birthday, Johnny, keep rockin’!