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Lynyrd Skynyrd’s frontman Johnny Van Zant, along with guitarists Hughie Thomason and Rickey Medlocke, lounges in the spacious lobby of the Arabella Sheraton Grand Hotel in Frankfurt.

The previous night, June 12, the band gave a free concert for servicemembers at Rhein-Main Air Base. Now, they’re reminiscing about fans, military coins and autographs — including one on the side of a fan’s Harley-Davison hog.

They promise to continue supporting the troops by playing concerts. Future performances might include venues in Italy and Spain early next year.

How did you feel about the concert last night?

Van Zant: It was great. Wonderful. It was our first show this year. It’s good to be able to play for the troops and their family. What more can we say?

Medlocke: It was very moving and very touching to be able to bring something to them and give them something back. They’ve given us so much. Without them doing what they do, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.

Why did you decide to come to put on a free show for the troops?

VZ: We were going to come over here and play. Us and Deep Purple were doing a tour anyway. I was over here back in March, about three [months] ago, doing some setup for this new album “Vicious Cycle.” I went to the [American] Forces Network, there, and did an interview. And I said, hey you know what, we’re going to be over here anyway. We were going to take this day to rehearse. I said instead of rehearsing for the tour, why don’t we just play for the troops.

Thomason: So we rehearsed in the afternoon, played for the troops in the evening.

VZ: Double duty. It was cool. You know what, they treated us great. We got to go through a C-17, one of the cargo planes, and set up in there. We heard missile launch, missile launch, we stalled, we stalled!

T: We met the base commander. And we sat in the seats and hit all the panic buttons.

VZ: We’re very blessed. It was our pleasure to come over and do it. It’s good for us to give back. We’ve got good karma now.

What do you think about what the Dixie Chicks did?

M: Oh, you’re hitting the right people for this one.

VZ: Some duct tape would be nice.

T: End of quote.

VZ: I personally think if Natalie (Maines, who said she was ashamed that President Bush was from Texas) doesn’t want to be in our country, she should come and live somewheres else. Go to the Middle East and live. All I got to say is that we’re ashamed that the Dixie Chicks are from Texas and America, for saying that about our president.

T: Yeah don’t mess with Texas.

VZ: Don’t mess with our troops, especially whenever all this stuff is going on and the war coming down. Come on. Get a grip on reality.

T: I still think the best answer is what you said earlier: some duct tape would be nice. You know whether you agree or disagree, at least support the troops.

VZ: You know what, if she had a beef with the president, he’s going to run again, don’t vote for the guy. Do it that way. Don’t be talking bad about him. A true American would not do that. That’s actually somebody that’s got her head stuck up her ass.

T, M: Oohh. Oooh!

VZ: Seriously, because she’s playing music and she thinks she’s bigger than everything. And that’s wrong. …

You guys have had tremendous staying power. Are there any secrets to success you could share?

M: Music.

VZ: We love to play.

T: I think the band’s music will be here long after we’re gone and I think the name Lynyrd Skynyrd is bigger than anybody collectively in the band.

VZ: Yeah, that music will be around for a long time.

T: And I think that's the staying power and the secret to it all is great music. It’s timeless.

What do you see for the future?

VZ: Doing a European tour. Ha. No, actually, hopefully just selling a lot of “Vicious Cycle” CDs and keep doing what we've been doing.

T: Keep the vicious cycle rollin’!

VZ: You know, staying healthy.

M: And happy.

Is there any message you would like to leave with the military and their family members serving overseas?

T: We love you. Thanks for doing what you do for us.

M: Don’t thank us, we thank you, that’s basically it.

VZ: And when time being, kick some big ass.

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