Johnny Van Zant is well aware he’s carrying on in his brother’s place.

But so far, after some 25 years, the load has not been a heavy one.

“I love doing this. We’ve been carrying on a legacy my brother started for some 25 years. It’s in our family — some families have doctors and lawyers; we have rock musicians,” said Van Zant, 53, lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Van Zant’s brother, Ronnie Van Zant, was the band’s lead vocalist until he and two other band members died in a plane crash in 1977. Skynyrd broke up immediately after, but reunited on a permanent basis in 1987 with Johnny stepping into his late brother’s role.

“I always keep in mind that this was something my brother loved and cherished … he died doing it,” Van Zant said.

The 2012 version of Lynyrd Skynyrd (guitarist Gary Rossington is the only member of the classic 1973-77 lineup still with the band) will play a show at Scarborough Downs racetrack on Friday with fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Famers ZZ Top.

It’s the third and final show of the season at the “Music at the Track” series started this year by Bangor-based Waterfront Concerts; the first two were a heavy metal festival featuring Five Finger Death Punch and a hip-hop show featuring Wiz Khalifa. All the shows have 10:30 p.m. stop times so as not to disturb nearby homeowners.

Friday’s show begins at 4:30 p.m., with regional acts performing before Lynyrd Skynyrd plays. ZZ Top is the closing act.

Whether the series continues next year will depend on how the promoter, town officials and others assess the three shows — including this one, said Alex Gray of Waterfront Concerts.

But one thing that can be guaranteed, said Van Zant, is that the sets by his band and ZZ Top will be “double trouble” and “a rocking time.”

“I think there are only a handful of bands left from that era — us, ZZ Top, my brother’s band (.38 Special featuring Donnie Van Zant) who are still around, touring a lot, making new music,” he said. “That’s why we called the new album ‘Last of a Dyin’ Breed.’ “

Both Skynyrd and ZZ Top are considered classic rock bands. But lest you think that means they’re oldies acts, consider this: “Last of a Dyin’ Breed” came out in August and debuted at No. 14 on the Billboard 200 album chart, making it Lynyrd Skynyrd’s highest-charting album since 1977.

So why do new waves of fans keep discovering a band that started making music more than 40 years ago?

“I think good music stands for itself,” said Van Zant. “Good music stands the test of time.”

Van Zant hasn’t changed much with time either. He’s had his own bands since he was 14, playing in bars around his native Jacksonville, Fla.

“I used to have to go wait in the parking lot during breaks; I couldn’t stay in the bar,” he recalled.

He lived in Los Angeles for about six months — “and almost starved to death.” But other than that, he’s always lived in his native Florida.

“I’m an old Southern boy, and all my family is down here. Plus, I love the swamp, and the gators don’t bother me anymore,” Van Zant said.

When not touring or recording, Van Zant spends his free time with his children and his 10 dogs, and likes to fish when he can.

But he’s not stuck in the past, either. His 10-year-old daughter sees to that.

“I’ve been listening to a lot of One Direction and Katy Perry lately,” he says. “It’s entertaining.”

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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