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Billy Powell passes but Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Legacy Endures. News Team.

I grew up on Southern Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd is one of my all time favorite bands. It has been a blessing that I have been able to see them in concert many times. Lynyrd Skynyrd brings back great memories for me and will always be apart of my life. It is a shame that today in Country and Rock there are no other new mainstream bands out there carrying the torch that I know except for Gretchen Wilson that shows Southern Pride in their music and not afraid because of Political Correctness to display the Confederate Flag in concert and merchandise or mention the Rebel Flag in some of their songs. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s success has been and will continue because they stand up for God, Family, and Nation. A lesson to be learned for all you other bands out there that are too chicken to stand up for your heritage.

From Lynyrd

The death of Billy Powell this week is another sad chapter in the long, strange saga of a great American band, one that has been seemingly cursed with tragedy. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s long, arduous odyssey brings to mind the legend of the Flying Dutchman, the doomed ghost ship that sails forever but will never find safe port. Skynyrd has been one of the longest-running, most accomplished and influential bands in history, but that’s been achieved at great personal cost.

The cover of their 1977 album, Street Survivors, showed the band members covered in flames. Three days after the album’s release, their chartered plane crashed in Mississippi, killing lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, vocalist Cassie Gaines, road manager Dean Kilpatrick and the plane’s pilot and co-pilot. There were serious injuries to everyone else. Billy Powell had his nose almost ripped off, along with all of his other injuries. The group Aerosmith had earlier considered chartering that particular airplane but had rejected it, after an inspection, as being a bad risk.

Billy Powell had been a great addition to the band as keyboard player. He was a music theory major in college and played classical music. He was thoroughly grounded in music and added much musically to the band, filling out the triple guitar attack with his full keyboard sound. He loved playing music, but he always shunned the spotlight. He found Christ after the plane crash and pursued Christian music, as well as continuing with playing with Skynyrd. He died Wednesday (Jan. 28) at home of an apparent heart attack at age 56.

“Freebird” was Billy Powell’s song. He didn’t write it — Ronnie Van Zant and Allen Collins did — but his piano arrangement completely gave that song its identity and its lasting appeal. As I recall, at that time, Billy had been working as a Skynyrd roadie and had worked up his own piano intro for “Freebird” and was playing it one afternoon before a band rehearsal. Ronnie Van Zant listened to it and told him, “You’re in the band now.”

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