Tragedy is not irrelevant to the Lynyrd Skynyrd lifeline. The preceding chapter to a heart-breaking rock and roll story was written earlier this week with the loss of original drummer, Bob Burns at age 64. What appeared to be a routine ride home on a Friday night in Cartersville, GA ended up as a fatal crash into a mailbox. “It was raining, and he was not wearing his seat belt,” Georgia State Patrol spokesman Tracey Watson told the Associated Press.
Lynyrd Skynyrd was of course a leading charge in the Southern Rock sound, contributing anthems such as “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Simple Man” and “Freebird.” The musicians themselves were no exception to the sex, drugs, and rock and roll mentality. They tested the boundaries of live on a regular basis, coping with drug and alcohol addictions and frequent police run-ins. “We’re kind of like an old dog that ain’t housebroken,” Singer, Ronnie Van Zant told The Post in 1976. Over the years, the band became marred by violence, tragedy and death.
Burns’s death is impossible to absorb without recalling similar tragedies that claimed the lives of former Lynyrd Skynyrd bandmates Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and Cassie Gains in a 1977 plane crash. Following the accident, Lynyrd Skynyrd essentially fell apart. Since that dreadful day, other band members have also passed from diseases. With the loss of Burns, Larry Junstrom and Gary Rossington are the only two original band members still living.
In the 1980s, some members got back together for a reunion tour with Van Zant’s younger brother, Johnny, as lead vocalist. Several early members — including Burns — were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. It is unclear what the future is for Lynyrd Skynyrd at the moment, however, we can be sure the music will live on as it always has.