Rickey Medlocke is best known as the guitarist for Lynyrd Skynyrd, and he owes it all to his grandfather, Shorty. Because of Shorty, Medlocke learned how to play the guitar, banjo, and drums, among other instruments. He still doesn’t consider himself a great musician. The only greatest accomplishment he can cite is sharing the stage with legendary musicians such as Allen Collins, Gary Rossington, and Ronnie Van Zant. He primarily has a special reverence for Zant, whom he described as a genius. While he continues giving credit to others, let’s take a few minutes to learn about the Lynyrd Skynyrd musician.
1. He Wishes to Meet Eric Clapton
We all dream of shaking hands with one celebrity who inspires us, and for Medlocke, that person happens to be Clapton. According to the Society of Rock, the guitarist said he has never met the former The Yardbirds guitarist. However, even if they have never been acquainted, the English guitarist still inspired Medlocke to perfect his vibrato.
2. He Loves Flamenco Music
Looking at the rock star, you would find it incredible that he is fond of classical flamenco music. Yet, he confessed to loving it so much that he wishes he had taken lessons when he had the chance. Of course, maybe now that he is much older, he feels the music can take a toll on his body, seeing that it comprises lots of handclapping and heel stamping. It can also be relatively fast-paced, which would make it tasking for the much older Medlocke.
3. The Crazy Horse Family Wanted to Adopt Him
Medlocke has always been proud of his Native American roots; therefore, he actively champions their rights. According to Newspaper Rock, Lance White and Geronimo Houston inducted him into the Native American Music Hall of fame. The induction was in 2008, and four years later, White called the musician asking if he would like to be adopted into the Crazy Horse family. Crazy Horse fought the United States federal government against the encroachment on Native American territory by white settlers. White is the great-great grandnephew of Crazy Horse, and Medlocke said he would be honored to be part of the Crazy Horse family.
4. His Grandfather Taught How to Play the Guitar
Shorty Medlocke, the rock star’s grandfather, played different instruments, including the banjo, mandolin, harmonica, fiddle, and guitar. The old man traveled all around Nashville with other musicians, and he would frequent the local TV station on the “Toby Dowdy Show.” Shorty encouraged Medlocke to play the guitar and even taught him the G, D, and C chords, then told the young boy to learn the rest independently. Medlocke was a fast learner, and at three years old, he was on the “Toby Dowdy Show” playing the banjo.
5. He Frequented the TV Station after Portraying His Talent
According to Louder, after teaching Medlocke how to play the banjo, Shorty was so proud of his grandson that he told Dowdy about it. The radio host could not believe that a three-year-old boy could play the banjo, as well as Shorty, was claiming hence the invitation to play. Once he proved his talent, Medlocke got invited to the radio station until Dowdy’s show was canceled.
6. He Would Have Been Given Up for Adoption
Although the foster care system is responsible for celebrities like Eddie Murphy and Steve Jobs, no parent ever wants to give up their child unless it’s necessary. In the case of Medlocke, his mother was only 16 when she gave birth to him, and the boyfriend did not hang around to raise their son. Medlocke’s mother, therefore, considered giving up her child for adoption, but her father, Shorty, stepped in, saying he would care for the boy. Consequently, Shorty and his wife, Ruby, raised the musician as their own. However, he still got to know his mother as years went by but was estranged from his biological father.
7. He Has One Lung
Medlocke was born with a respiratory disease called bronchiectasis, which he said is mainly confused with bronchitis. He grew up with the illness until he was nine and had to undergo surgery to remove one of the lungs. He said he would have died if his grandfather had not done all he could to afford the medical expenses. According to Swampland, Shorty worked hard earning a living and still did music as a side hustle to get enough money to cater for the bills. Therefore, the guitarist feels he owes his maternal grandparents his life.
8. “Hound Dog” Made Him Want to Be a Musician
The first time Medlocke heard Elvis Presley perform “Hound Dog,” he knew he wanted to be a musician. His grandparents would take him to the baseball park when he was between six and seven to watch Presley perform. After that song, Medlocke was so excited on the way back home and kept telling his grandmother he would be a musician once he was older. His dreams finally came true, and even as a teenager, he was a drummer in Shorty’s bands. He opines that since he started his life as a musician early, it helped him stay focused in life.
9. His First Band Was Called Fresh Garbage
Fresh Garbage seems like such a bad one to call yourself, but Medlocke and his bandmates thought it was lovely. They were inspired by Spirit’s debut album, whose opening track was titled “Fresh Garbage. Like its name suggested, the band did not have a long shelf life; therefore, they exhausted all opportunities in their local pubs. Later they changed their name to Blackfoot, but they did not get the record deal they wanted. The disappointment led to Medlocke auditioning to join Lynyrd Skynyrd.
10. His Advice for Young Band
Medlocke told CleveRock.com that bands should go after what is in their hearts. They should also be ready to give up when something is not working out but only after giving it their all. He cited himself as an example; he set his heart on becoming a rock music musician, and till now, he enjoys doing what he loves.