Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd have opted to retire the Confederate flag which has been part of the band's stageshow for years - because the message of the banner has been lost amid race issues.

Guitarist Gary Rossington insists he and his bandmates don't want to be associated with the racist skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members who have adopted the flag as their own.

He tells CNN, "People like the Kkk and skinheads kind of kidnapped the Dixie or Southern flag from its tradition and the heritage of the soldiers (in the American Civil War).

"We didn't want that to go to our fans or show the image like we agreed with any of the race stuff or any of the bad things."