Wednesday, January 28, 2009

RIP Billy Powell

Good news travel fast. Bad news travels even faster. I just found out about the death of Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboardist via text message. He was only 56.

Powell was the only keyboardist Skynyrd ever had and has been a member since 1973. He lived through the infamous plane crash and is credited for the intro to Freebird.

It's a real tragedy for the band, their fans, and for the music industry. Lynyrd Skynyrd is one of the most legendary, influential bands in rock. They are certainly one of the pioneers of southern rock, no doubt about it. To lose one of the last, original members is devastating.

The question is now: What becomes of Lynyrd Skynyrd? According to an agreement made shortly after the 1977 plane crash, Skynyrd can only continue to play if they have two original members from the pre-plane crash line up. That leaves Gary Rossington as the only original member of Lynyrd Skynrd, and may mark the end of Lynyrd Skynyrd as we know it.

Out of respect for the band and everything it stands for, I think letting go of Skynyrd now is a good thing. Would I like for the band to continue on? Absolutely. Is it really worth it now that there's only one original member? Probably not. And let's not forget that bass player Ean Evans is in failing health as well, so the future of Skynyrd continuing on without Powell is really not looking so great (even if it were an option).

Powell's death comes as a shock to everyone, but it really comes as a shock to me since I was just on the Lynyrd Skynyrd Simple Man cruise with him a couple of weeks ago. Granted, it's not like I was hanging out with the guy or anything, but he was there playing music and making his legions of fans happy on the high seas. I met him a few years ago when Skynyrd played here in Columbus, and I'm lucky to have had the opportunity to be on the Skynyrd cruise and experience the band in that way for two years in a row.

Billy Powell was an amazing musician. His talents and contributions will not be forgotten.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Maybe someone out there can school me on some Lynyrd Skynyrd history. I knew there was some sort of agreement made about Lynyrd Skynyrd carrying on with a certain number of original members. Was it the "Rule of 3" and not the "Rule of 2"? Damn Wikipedia. I should have known better than to believe that as actual fact. My fiance says there has to be 3 original members, and I've seen a few other fans state the same thing on various internet sites.

If it is the rule of 2, can Skynyrd continue since Ricky Medlocke was technically an original member in 1970? I don't think Artimus Pyle counts since he won't have anything to do with the band.

Somebody straighten my ass out please. I hate not having correct info. I truly do try to research my facts before I post anything; this time it totally backfired on me. My apologies.


Anonymous said...

It's a very sad day in Rock & Roll. The rule or "agreement" is to have 3 original members. Rickey Medlocke was the bands first drummer, Rickey left LS because he felt that he was doing an injustice to the band by not being such a great drummer. Billy, Rickey & Gary were those 3 original members.
Ean is doing better. The family said thank you for all your prayers and thoughts. This is a sad day in the LS camp...

Ryo Vie said...

Here's some information that I found on the net for you. Apparantely it was a 3 original member deal, but a special deal was struck for 2 members (see below). Perhaps, as you said, it may be best to let Lynrd Skynrd lay to rest. RIP Billy.

Leon's (Wilkeson)death caused a controversy within Skynyrd's innards. Under a legal agreement with Judy Van Zant-Jenness, Ronnie's widow, Lynyrd Skynyrd must contain three original members in order to retain the name. Following Wilkeson's death, only guitarist Gary Rossington and pianist Billy Powell remain. Former drummer Artimus Pyle and guitarist Ed King are estranged from the band. Guitarist Rickey Medlocke, formerly of Blackfoot, was a member of Lynyrd Skynyrd briefly in 1970 as a drummer, but since he was not present on Skynyrd's debut album, he does not count as an "original" member, nor was he inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. Rossington and Powell, the two remaining members of Skynyrd, and Van Zant-Jenness have come to a financial agreement allowing them to continue recording and touring under the name Lynyrd Skynyrd. VH-1 produced a 1 hour special about this controversy in 2002 entitled "Uncivil War".