By Steve Newton
Sad news for Southern-rock fans–and Lynyrd Skynyrd freaks, in particular.
Original Skynyrd drummer Bob Burns–who played drums on the band’s first two albums–died last night after a single-car accident near Catersville, Georgia, when his car went off the road and hit a tree.
Hardcore fans of the tragedy-prone band know too well that its 1977 ode to reckless living, “That Smell”, opens with the lines: “Whiskey bottles, and brand new cars. Oak tree you’re in my way.”
But there is no indication at this point that drugs or alcohol were involved with the crash that killed Burns, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.
As the drummer on 1973’s (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd) and 1974’s Second Helping, Burns kept time on such deathless tracks as “I Ain’t the One”, “Gimme Three Steps”, “Sweet Home Alabama”, “Workin’ for MCA”, “Free Bird”, and the cover of J.J. Cale‘s “Call Me the Breeze”.
When the band played the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver last month it performed all of those songs–as well as “Mississippi Kid”, the only Skynyrd tune that Burns got a co-writer credit for.
Burns formed the group in the mid-’60s in Jacksonville, Florida, with Gary Rossington, Larry Junstrom, Ronnie Van Zant and Allen Collins.
In the wake of Burns’ death, Rossington left this message on the Lynyrd Skynyrd Facebook page:
Well, today I’m at a loss for words, but I just remember Bob being a funny guy. He was just so funny, he used to do skits for us and make us laugh all the time, he was hilarious!
Ironically, since we played Jacksonville yesterday. Dale, my daughter and I, went by the cemetery to see some of the guys in the band and my parents grave sites. On the way back, we went by Bob Burns old house, it was there in the carport where we used to first start to practice with Skynyrd.
My heart goes out to his family and God bless him and them in this sad time. He was a great great drummer.