It marks the legendary rock band’s second CMT Crossroads appearance. It’s the first for Gilbert, who says the collaboration has been a long time in the making.
“We’ve been back and forth for a while about doing one of the Crossroads things,” Gilbert told CMT Hot 20 Countdown backstage during the recent taping near Nashville. “I won’t bring any bands up in particular, but I feel like a lot of times if I’m having trouble making a decision, there’s a reason for that.
“When my manager said ‘Lynyrd Skynyrd,’ when that came across I was, like, ding! It got to a conversation where it was like, ‘Look, man you really need to do this thing and we want you to have fun with it and we want it to be something you believe in. Who is somebody you would do it with?’”
When Gilbert picked Lynyrd Skynyrd as his top choice, he was told the band had already participated in a Crossroads concert with Montgomery Gentry in 2010.
“I was like, ‘Look, if they’ll do it again, I’ll do it,’” Gilbert said. “‘Let’s go!’”
When the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd were approached about working with the “One Hell of an Amen” singer, they realized the pairing couldn’t be more perfect.
“They mentioned him, and we were like, ‘Oh, that’s the guy that’s got the rock band!’” lead vocalist Johnny Van Zant joked to Gilbert. “I had heard ‘Bottoms Up,’ too, and I had listened to your records, so we were like, ‘OK. We’re gonna do it.’ … So now we’re doing it with you, man, and it’s a great honor.
CMT Crossroads: Lynyrd Skynyrd and Brantley Gilbert premieres Saturday at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Check out more of the exclusive interview on the new episode of CMT Hot 20 Countdown airing Saturday and Sunday at 9 a.m. ET/PT, and enjoy their performance of a Lynyrd Skynyrd classic: