American rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd shot to fame in the 70’s as a result of their driving live performances and signature tunes like the classic rock anthem Sweet Home Alabama, Free Bird, (which ranked the third greatest guitar solo by Guitar World and was voted #2 in a Kiwi radio station 2012 Top 1000 Songs list), Saturday Night Special and Simple Man. In 1977 three members of the band died tragically in an airplane crash. The surviving members re-formed in 1987 and the current line-up consists of core members Johnny Van Zant (the younger brother of lead singer and founder Ronnie Van Zant) on vocals, co-founders Gary Rossington (guitar) and Rickey Medlock (guitar), plus bassist Johnny Colt (Black Crowes, Train), guitarist Mark ‘Sparky’ Matejka, Michael Cartellone on drums and keyboardist Peter Keys. Skynyrd have a catalogue of over 60 albums, sales beyond 35 million worldwide and in 2005 were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside Black Sabbath, Blondie, Miles Davis, and the Sex Pistols. Their new album Last of a Dyin’ Breed continues to build on the legacy that began over 40 years ago and further cements Lynyrd Skynyrd one of the most beloved bands of all time.
Mickey Thomas is the soulful voice that propelled Starship through the 80’s and 90’s. He was the lead vocalist on the mega-hit Fooled Around and Fell In Love with the Elvin Bishop Band and in 1979 he joined Jefferson Starship who immediately scored a #1 song with Jane. The group was renamed Starship and continued to record a string of hits including No Way Out, We Built This City, Sara, Count On Me, Somebody To Love, Laying It On The Line, It’s Not Over (Til It’s Over), White Rabbit and the #1 Oscar nominated hit Nothings Going To Shop Us Now (from the movie Mannequin). Since 1979 every Starship album released has gone sky high, reaching Gold, Platinum, or Multi-Platinum sales.
English art rock group 10cc have sold more than 30 million albums worldwide. With hits such as Dreadlock Holiday, The Things We Do For Love, I’m Not In Love (which has since been covered by the likes of the Pretenders, Peggy Lee, Richie Havens, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, and the Flaming Lips!), Art For Art’s Sake, Rubber Bullets, Cry, I’m Mandy Fly Me and Donna, 10cc are responsible for some of the most lyrically dextrous and musically varied songs of the 70’s and 80’s. Group co-founder Graham Gouldman (who wrote songs for many other artists such as Bus Stop for the Hollies, the Yardbirds, For Your Love and No Milk Today and Listen People for Herman’s Hermits) said “The band as it stands now is absolutely fantastic. This is as near as you’re ever going to get to hearing the perfect 10cc. Hit after hit after hit. It’s relentless. We show no mercy.”
By 2014, Taupo was well established as the opening venue for the Summer Concert Tour. With the success of the three acts in the previous year, it was decided to once again bring three acts for the 2014 Tour. It was the first time Lynyrd Skynyrd or Starship had performed in New Zealand and along with the songs from 10cc, the concert was a near sellout. This was also the first time we had a wet weather show. Concert promoters expected the crowd to stay at home or maybe turn up, but leave early. Not likely, the near capacity crowd sang and danced throughout the day, during mostly rain and a small amount of sunshine. When the final song “Freebird” was played, everybody was up dancing and singing the song word for word…..what an incredible show!
Unlike Taupo the day before, Matakana was a brilliant clear warm day….and the crowd showed up in their droves. Nearly 7000 people attended the Country Park and soaked up the classic rock tunes throughout the day. 10cc and Starship played all of their famous hits and got the crowd warmed up for Skynyrd. By the time “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Freebird” was performed there was not one person in the crowd still sitting down.
Skynyrd epitomizes the South, and the Kiwi South Islanders loved Skynyrd. As in past years the final show is always the biggest of the tour – this was no exception. This time more than 3000 people came by coach alone with total numbers close to a sellout, to experience the magic of 10cc, the incredible song list and voices of Mickey Thomas and Stephanie Calvert of Starship, and the true Southern Rock of Lynyrd Skynyrd. All three artists performed to the huge crowd and the crowd engaged with the artists. It was a fantastic way to finish the tour.