Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Former Guitarist Ed King Dies
King played guitar in Lynyrd Skynyrd from 1972 to 1975 and and again in 1987 during the band's comeback after a decade of inactivity, following the tragic 1977 airplane crash that took the lives of singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, singer Cassie Gaines and others in the Skynyrd inner circle.
King left the band in 1996.
Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington posted condolences on the band's Facebook page. "I’ve just found out about Ed’s passing and I’m shocked and saddened, " he wrote. "Ed was our brother, and a great songwriter and guitar player. I know he will be reunited with the rest of the boys in Rock and Roll Heaven. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sharon and his family."
King was also a member of the psychedelic band Strawberry Alarm Clock, who had a 1967 hit with the song "Incense and Peppermints." According to Skynyrd biographer Gene Odom's book Lynyrd Skynyrd: Remembering the Free Birds of Southern Rock, King joined Skynyrd in 1973, initially as a bassist, before switching to guitar, joining the band's other guitarists, Rossington and Allen Collins, for a three-guitar sound that came to define the group.
King wrote "Poison Whiskey" on Lynyrd Skynyrd's first album, 1973's Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd, and co-wrote the classics "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Workin' for MCA" on their second album, Second Helping, in 1974.
He left Skynyrd in 1975, after the release of the band's third record, Nuthin' Fancy (featuring a King co-write in "Saturday Night Special"), during their self-proclaimed "Hell Tour." He was replaced by Steve Gaines.
When the surviving members of the band reunited in 1987, King returned to the fold and, according to Spin magazine, assumed musical control of the group — selecting set lists, conducting rigorous rehearsals and hiring additional musicians, all of which rubbed the other members the wrong way. He left the group in 1996 for health reasons and was replaced by ex-Outlaws guitarist Hughie Thomasson.
King and other current and former members of Lynyrd Skynyrd were recently featured in the Showtime documentary Lynyrd Skynyrd: If I Leave Here Tomorrow.