Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington once spent a night “slapping the crap” out of Tesla counterpart Frank Hannon’s hands.
Hannon shared the memory in a tribute to Rossington, who died on March 5, describing him as one of Tesla’s “biggest influences.”
“Gary Rossington was a man and musician that was truly unique to himself, and an example of strength and simplicity,” he wrote. “His style was always very stoic and real, and it was reflected in the music he created since their very beginnings. I once heard an interview with Gary from years ago where he said his mother told him early in his life to always ‘just be yourself,’ and he always did just that as expressed in the Lynyrd Skynyrd song ‘Simple Man.’”
He went on to commend Rossington’s approach to playing, noting that he was “never one to show off technical skills or overplay.” He noted that “when our band Tesla toured as the opening act for Lynyrd Skynyrd for a full summer in the mid-1990s, we’d make a point every night to leave our dressing room and stand on Gary’s side of stage to get a dose of his beautiful slide guitar tone. … This is the ultimate goal of a songwriter or guitarist: to create an original song or guitar part that touches people’s souls forever. Gary Rossington did that with his guitar and songwriting.”
Hannon recalled the last night of the tour when he was invited to join Skynyrd onstage for a rendition of “Call Me the Breeze.” “When it came time to play the first guitar solo, Gary came over to me and gave me a swift kick in the butt to get up front of the stage and play my guitar!” he said. “That section was usually his solo part, but he gave it to me with a kicking gesture and a nod.”
“Later that night … we all ended up in Johnny Van Zant’s hotel room, partying until the sun came up, spending hours drinking beers and taking turns slapping the crap out of each other with a game of ‘slap hand.’ It was obvious that Gary and the boys had played this game for many years because I couldn’t get a slap in on Gary once! My hands were beat red from Gary’s quick smacks! I’ll never forget that night and that game.”
Hannon concluded, “Thank you for sharing so much with the world, not only with your amazing songs but with your friendship, realness and honesty … your simple style and surviving legacy will always inspire me and Tesla to continue on in this world of music.”
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