See Slash and Billy Gibbons Lead All-Star Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute
The performance was introduced by Peter Frampton, who paid tribute to Gary Rossington, Lynyrd Skynyrd's last surviving original member, who died on March 5 at the age of 71. "Gary not only helped define the band's sound, he inspired millions of fans and musicians," Frampton noted in part. "He's now joined his fellow Skynyrd bandmates in rock and roll heaven, but we will all enjoy their music forever."
Rodgers handled lead vocals on the first song of the tribute, a stirring rendition of the Skynyrd classic "Simple Man." He was joined by country singer Cody Johnson midway through the tune, with both vocalists trading parts from there on out. As the song was being played, images of Rossington were shown on big screens behind the performers.
Following "Simple Man" came a rousing rendition of the iconic Skynyrd song "Sweet Home Alabama." Slash and Gibbons played on both tunes, but it was here that the rock legends were able to open up a little and deliver some of their customary searing solos.
Also joining in the performances were Chuck Leavell and Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers Band, while LeAnn Rimes and Wynonna Judd served as backing singers, ostensibly filling the role of the Honkettes, the famed female vocalists that backed Lynyrd Skynyrd during the band’s rise to fame.
Watch the performance in full below.
While Rossington's memory certainly hung in the room, the awards show performance also celebrated Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 50th anniversary. The Jacksonville-formed group released their debut album (Pronounced 'Leh-'nerd 'Skin-'nerd) in August 1973, bringing Southern rock to mainstream audiences in the process.
Even as they've mourned the loss of their bandmate and last original member, Lynyrd Skynyrd has continued with their previously planned 2023 concerts. The group's first performance following Rossington's death took place March 12 and featured plenty of tributes to the guitarist.
The Skynyrd tribute wasn't the only rock-tinged performance of the CMT Music Awards. Earlier in the night, Judd teamed with Ashley McBride for a soaring cover of Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is" and the Black Crowes took the stage with Darius Rucker to perform "She Talks to Angels."