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Byline: NATHAN BEVAN Reporter

ONE is a legendary, millionselling American band behind some of the most seminal tracks in rock.

e other is an unsigned bunch of guitar-toting hopefuls from Cynon Valley.

But, despite there being a gulf of 3,000 miles and almost 50 years in the music business between them, US longhairs Lynyrd Skynyrd have handpicked Aberdare group Fireroad to support them on stage during their upcoming boat tour of the Bahamas.

e four-piece will accompany the Southern rockers - famed from such tracks as Freebird and Sweet Home Alabama - on the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship as it sets sail from Miami to the band's very own private tropical island, Great Stirrup Cay, this November.

"Lynyrd Skynryd chose us personally from a shortlist of about eight other outts," said Fireroad's lead singer Richard Jones.

"ey said that they heard in our music the same kind of spark they'd got growing up on classic British bands like e Who and e Yardbirds.

"In fact I hadn't realised that it was thanks to e Who, who'd booked them to play on their 1973 Quadrophenia tour, that Skynyrd got their rst big break. So I think this is kind of their way of replaying that debt."

But Jones said landing the concert " cruise coup had been a hard-fought battle.

"Our manager said he'd put our name forward for it only if we built up a sucient fanbase in the US," said the former art teacher and dad-of-three.

"So, via Facebook, we set about contacting the 2,000-plus people who've booked to go on the cruise, sending them our music online and basically launching an all-out, around-theclock charm oensive.

"It was bloody hard work and, because of the transatlantic time dierence, it meant three months of very late nights in front the computer."

eir grand plan paid o meani" Fireroad will now follow in the footsteps of Henry's Funeral Shoe, the bluesy Ystrad Mynach duo who set sail on a similar nautical adventure with outrageous glam rockers Kiss around the Gulf of Mexico back in 2012.

And for Jones - who previously missed out on the spotlight when he split from an early, pre-fame incarnation of Stereophonics - this second bite of the cherry has been along time coming.

"It's not often you get to play to a captive audience so performing on a boat with bona de music legends is an opportunity we're going to grab with both hands," he said.

"We're also hoping to stop o in Jacksonville along the way, which is the city where Skynyrd rst started - who knows, maybe we could even - share a stage with them there too."

e singer added that his band were " currently working on their second album - a follow-up to their acclaimed debut I Got Sound - which was inspired by the life of late Merthyr boxing champ Johnny 'Matchstick Man' Owen.

* "Trying to launch Fireroad and getpeople to listen has been such a battle and it got me thinking about Johnny and the mountain he had to climb to achieve the recognition he did.

"So I approached his family and they gave us permission to use his name and image on the record - something they've never granted before. "Johnny was a little guy with a huge heart and soul - a metaphor for Wales in general if you like.

"We may not be a big country but we can give as good as the best of them."


Cynon Valley rockers Fireroad (singer Richard Jones, second from left )
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 10, 2014
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