Robert Burns Jr., founding member and former drummer of the southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, died Friday night when his car crashed into a tree in Georgia.
Georgia State Patrolwoman Tracey Watson told the media that the 64-year-old rocker was driving down the road when his car approached a curve near Catersville, Georgia and swerved off the road, hitting a mailbox and a tree. Burns was the only occupant in the car, and according to the police, he was not wearing his seat belt at the time of the accident.
Burns’ vehicle was the only one involved in the accident, and police are still investigating the possible cause. Watson told the media that no details were immediately available.
Robert Louis “Bob” Burns Jr. was born November 24, 1950 in Jacksonville, Florida. In 1964, Burns would hook up with Gary Rossington and Larry Junstrom to form the wildly popular band Lynyrd Skynyrd. Band members Ronnie Van Zant and Allen Collins joined shortly after.
The bands earliest demos were recorded in 1970, and Burns played for most of them, but on the band’s album Skynyrd’s First and…Last, the drum parts for the songs recorded in 1971 were played by drummer Rickey Medlocke. In the early 1970’s Medlocke would play alongside Burns for a two-drummer line-up in some special performances.
Burns would play on the bands first two official albums Pronounced Len-nerd Skin-nerd and Second Helping before deciding to leave the band in 1974 due to exhaustion from living life on the road. Before he left Skynyrd, Burns would drum on the bands hit songs “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Free Bird,” “Gimme Three Steps,” and “Tuesdays Gone” among others. Robert was replaced by drummer Artimus Pyle.
Skynayd would convince Burns to return for a performance to help promote Freebird: The Movie in 1996, and on March 13, 2006, he would rejoin his band mates once again for a special performance at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Robert Burns’ father made a statement to the media about his son.
“He was a product of his mother, so far as manners is concerned,” the elder Burns said. “He had the manners that would suit the King of England. Very soft-spoken and extremely well-mannered person to come out of that kind of industry.”
Gary Rossington who was in Skynyrd with Burns posted a message about his old friend today on the bands 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.”
[Photo courtesy of mfrancoliniblog.blogspot.com]