Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboardist Billy Powell dead at 56

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ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, JUNE 28, 2009

By Steve Newton

Original Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboardist Billy Powell died early this morning at his home in Orange Park, Florida, apparently due to a heart attack. He was pronounced dead at 1:52 a.m. after paramedics responded to a 911 call in which Powell, who has a history of heart problems, reported having trouble breathing.

Powell is best known for the poignant organ and piano intro to the southern-rock legends’ first big hit, “Free Bird”, and also for the honky-tonk stylings that accompanied its followup smash, “Sweet Home Alabama”.

He walked away from the 1977 plane crash that killed six people–including original vocalist Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Steve Gaines–with severe facial injuries.

Guitarist Gary Rossington is now the sole original member in the current Lynyrd Skynyrd lineup.

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