Lynyrd Skynyrd, the iconic Southern rock band, has left an indelible mark on the music world with their powerful songs and electrifying performances. Central to their distinct sound is the exceptional guitar playing that has become synonymous with their name. Today we learn about every guitar player for Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Over the years, Lynyrd Skynyrd has been fortunate to have had a lineup of exceptional guitarists who have played a pivotal role in shaping their signature style. In this article, we delve into the guitar players who have contributed their extraordinary talents to Lynyrd Skynyrd, tracing their musical journeys and exploring the lasting impact they have had on the band’s legacy.
Allen Collins: The Master of Riffs
Allen Collins, born on July 19, 1952, in Jacksonville, Florida, was a renowned American guitarist and one of the founding members of the legendary Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. Known for his exceptional skills and innovative guitar playing, Collins played a pivotal role in shaping the band’s signature sound. Allen Collins became the first Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist.
Early Days and Musical Influences
Inspired by blues, country, and rock and roll hall, he began playing the guitar in his teenage years. Collins drew influences from guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, and Jimmy Page, whose styles would later contribute to his own unique sound.
Formation of Lynyrd Skynyrd
In the late 1960s, Allen Collins, along with childhood friend Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Gary Rossington, formed a Rossington Collins band that would eventually become Lynyrd Skynyrd. Pronounced lĕh nérd skin nérd.
Initially named My Backyard, the band went through several lineup changes before settling on their iconic name in 1970, inspired by their high school gym teacher, Leonard Skinner.
Guitar Style and Contributions
Allen Collins was widely regarded as a master of riffs, renowned for his melodic and powerful guitar playing. His distinct style incorporated a blend of bluesy licks, fiery solos, and soulful slide guitar work, which became integral to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s sound. Collins contributed greatly to the band’s songwriting process, co-writing many of their most beloved hits, including “Free Bird,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” and “Tuesday’s Gone.”
His partnership with guitarist Gary Rossington created a formidable guitar duo that defined Lynyrd Skynyrd’s dual-guitar sound. The intricate interplay between the two guitarists and their harmonized solos became a hallmark of the band’s live performances, captivating audiences with their dynamic and electrifying stage presence.
Gary Rossington: The Soul of Lynyrd Skynyrd
Gary Rossington, born on December 4, 1951, in Jacksonville, Florida, is an American guitarist and a founding member of the iconic Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. His soulful guitar playing, enduring dedication, and resilience have made him an integral part of the band’s legacy.
Musical Roots and Formation of Lynyrd Skynyrd
Songwriter and guitarist Gary Rossington discovered his love for the guitar at a young age. Influenced by blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and country music, Rossington honed his skills and developed a distinctive playing style that would become synonymous with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s sound.
In the late 1960s, Gary Rossington joined forces with childhood friend Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Allen Collins to form what would eventually become Lynyrd Skynyrd. The band underwent various name changes before settling on their final moniker, paying tribute to their high school gym teacher, Leonard Skinner.
Guitar Style and Contributions
Gary Rossington’s guitar style is characterized by its soulful and emotive qualities. With a knack for creating memorable and melodic riffs, Gary Rossington contributed significantly to the band’s songwriting process. His playing incorporated elements of blues, rock, and country, resulting in a rich and dynamic sound that defined Lynyrd Skynyrd’s music.
Gary Rossington’s partnership with Allen Collins became the backbone of the band’s guitar-driven sound. Their dual-guitar harmonies and intricate interplay added depth and intensity to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s compositions. Iconic tracks like “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Simple Man,” and “Gimme Three Steps” showcase Gary Rossington’s talent for crafting memorable guitar parts that resonate with audiences to this day.
Ed King: The Innovative Guitarist
Ed King, born on September 14, 1949, in Glendale, California, was an American guitarist known for his innovative style and contributions to the iconic Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. With his exceptional guitar skills and unique musical approach, King left an indelible mark on the band’s sound and legacy.
Musical Journey and Pre-Lynyrd Skynyrd Career
Before joining Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ed King had already made a name for himself in the music industry. In the late 1960s, he co-founded the psychedelic rock band Strawberry Alarm Clock, known for their chart-topping hit “Incense and Peppermints.” King’s time with Strawberry Alarm Clock helped cultivate his musical skills and set the stage for his future endeavors.
Joining Lynyrd Skynyrd
In 1972, Ed King’s path crossed with Lynyrd Skynyrd when he met the band’s members during a Strawberry Alarm Clock performance. Impressed by King’s guitar prowess, the band invited him to join Skynyrd brothers as a Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist. King’s addition to the lineup would prove to be a pivotal moment in the band’s evolution.
Guitar Style and Contributions
Ed King’s guitar style brought a fresh and innovative dimension to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s sound. Known for his intricate fingerpicking and slide guitar techniques, King added layers of texture and complexity to the band’s compositions. His melodic approach and ability to weave intricate guitar parts seamlessly into the music helped solidify Lynyrd Skynyrd’s distinctive Southern rock sound.
King’s contributions extended beyond his guitar playing. He collaborated with fellow band members in crafting songs, including co-writing the iconic hit “Sweet Home Alabama.” His creative input and musical versatility greatly enriched the band’s songwriting process, showcasing his talent as both a guitarist and a songwriter.
Steve Gaines: The Rising Star
Steve Gaines, born on September 14, 1949, in Miami, Oklahoma, was an immensely talented guitarist and songwriter who briefly graced the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd with his remarkable skills. Despite his short time with the band, Gaines left an indelible mark on their music and continues to be celebrated for his immense talent and potential.
Early Years and Musical Talents
From a young age, Steve Gaines displayed an innate musical talent. Growing up in a musical family, he honed his skills as a guitarist, drawing inspiration from various genres, including blues, rock, and country. Gaines’ exceptional abilities on the guitar quickly became apparent, showcasing his versatility and proficiency across different styles.
Joining Lynyrd Skynyrd
In 1976, Steve Gaines received a life-changing invitation to join Lynyrd Skynyrd as a guitarist and songwriter. His addition to the band was met with enthusiasm and excitement, as his prodigious talent brought fresh energy and creativity to the group. Gaines quickly integrated himself into the Lynyrd Skynyrd lineup and embarked on a remarkable musical journey.
Guitar Style and Contributions
Steve Gaines’ guitar style was marked by its fluidity, precision, and emotive quality. With a virtuosic command over his instrument, Gaines seamlessly blended elements of blues, rock, and country. His melodic solos and intricate fingerpicking showcased his technical prowess, earning him widespread acclaim among fans and peers alike.
Gaines’ contributions extended beyond his guitar playing. He made significant songwriting contributions to the band, collaborating on tracks such as “Ain’t No Good Life” and “I Know a Little,” which further showcased his talent as a versatile songwriter.
Tragic Loss and Musical Impact – 1977 Plane Crash
The Lynyrd Skynyrd journey was tragically cut short on October 20, 1977, when the band’s plane crashed, claiming the lives of guitarist Steve Gaines, lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, and several others. The loss of Steve Gaines and Ronnie Van Zant was deeply felt in the music world. Fans and peers in the music world expressed their deepest sympathy as their immense potential and exceptional talent were abruptly taken away.
Despite his brief time with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steve Gaines’ impact on the band’s legacy is immeasurable. His guitar work and songwriting contributions continue to be celebrated as integral components of the Lynyrd Skynyrd sound. The heartfelt and soulful solos he crafted, such as his iconic solo in “Free Bird,” remain etched in the hearts and minds of fans.
As the last surviving original member, Rossington swore to continue the band’s legacy.
Related: Best Guitar Soloists Of All Time
Hughie Thomasson: The Guitar Virtuoso of Southern Rock
Hughie Thomasson, born on August 13, 1952, in Tampa, Florida, was a highly accomplished guitarist and songwriter best known for his contributions to Southern rock bands such as Outlaws. With his exceptional guitar skills and distinct musical style, Thomasson played a vital role in shaping the sound and legacy of Southern rock.
Musical Journey and Early Years
Hughie Thomasson’s passion for music emerged during his childhood, as he immersed himself in the sounds of blues, country, and rock ‘n’ roll. Drawing inspiration from legendary guitarists like Eric Clapton and Duane Allman, Thomasson developed his own unique guitar style, characterized by a seamless blend of intricate melodic lines and powerful riffs.
The Outlaws and Musical Success
In the early 1970s, Hughie Thomasson co-founded the Southern rock band Outlaws, becoming one of its primary songwriters and lead guitarists. The Outlaws achieved significant commercial success with their signature hits such as “There Goes Another Love Song” and “Green Grass and High Tides,” the latter featuring Thomasson’s legendary guitar solo that captivated audiences worldwide.
Joining Lynyrd Skynyrd and Continued Success
After the disbandment of Outlaws in the early 1980s, Hughie Thomasson became a member of Lynyrd Skynyrd as the lead guitarist in 1987. Thomasson’s virtuosity and ability to capture the essence of Southern rock added a fresh dynamic to the band’s sound during their post-reunion era. His notable guitar work can be heard on famous songs like “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Simple Man,” where he skillfully honored the legacy of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s original guitarists while infusing his own unique touch.
Legacy and Influence
Hughie Thomasson’s musical legacy extends far beyond his time with the Outlaws and Lynyrd Skynyrd. His innovative guitar-playing and songwriting prowess have had a profound influence on generations of guitarists and musicians. Thomasson’s ability to blend elements of rock, country, and blues into his playing created a unique sonic palette that continues to inspire and resonate with fans of Southern rock.
Unfortunately, Hughie Thomasson passed away on September 9, 2007 of a heart attack, leaving a void in the music world. However, his contributions to the genre and his enduring impact as a guitar virtuoso ensure that his legacy will live on through his recorded works and the admiration of fellow musicians and fans alike.
In 2019 the band announced Last of The Street Survivors farewell tour on their official Facebook page. However, they later changed the tour name to the “Big Wheels Keep On Turnin'” Tour.
On March 5 2023 the last remaining original member Gary Rossington passed away. While the exact cause is uncertain, we know that he suffered a heart attack and even underwent emergency heart surgery later in his life.
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s status as a Southern rock pioneer is inextricably linked to the exceptional guitar players who have graced their lineup. From guitarist Allen Collins’ mastery of riffs to Gary Rossington’s soulful playing, each guitarist has made significant contributions to the band’s musical tapestry. Together, they have crafted timeless guitar solos, evoking emotions and captivating audiences worldwide!