Lynyrd Skynyrd Keyboardist Found Dead

Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboardist Billy Powell was found dead in his Orange Park, FL home on the morning of January 28, 2009.

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Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboardist Billy Powell was found dead in his Orange Park, FL home on the morning of January 28, 2009. He was 56 years old.

The Associated Press reports that Powell called 911 shortly before 1:00 A.M. on Wednesday morning and said he was having trouble breathing.

Paramedics arrived at his home and found him unconscious. Orange Park Police Lieutenant Mark Cornett tells the Associated Press that rescue crews attempted to resuscitate him but to no avail. He was pronounced dead at 1:52 A.M.

Powell reportedly missed a doctor's appointment on Tuesday to have a cardiac evaluation and it's suspected that due to his history of heart problems that he likely died of a heart attack.

Billy started working as a roadie for Skynyrd before they heard his rendition of "Free Bird" on the piano and hired him as their full-time keyboardist. He is one of only a few band members that survived the 1977 plane crash that took the lives most of the band's original lineup. His skills on the piano can be heard in such famous Lynyrd Skynyrd songs as "Sweet Home Alabama", "Free Bird", and "What's Your Name". After the 1977 plane crash, Powell would go on to tour with a new incarnation of the band featuring original singer Ronnie Van Zant's brother Johnny Van Zant taking over vocal duties. Lynyrd Skynyrd would go on to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.

Billboard.com reports that "as-yet-unspecified shows will be canceled due to Powell's death. Skynyrd was slated to perform Friday (Jan. 30) in Kinder, La., and the following day in Biloxi, Miss. A European tour was set to begin May 20 in Finland."

The loss of Billy Powell is truly a massive one. I personally started taking piano lessons because of this man and it breaks my heart to know that he's gone. Our hearts go out to his family and friends during this tough time.

Report by David Lowe-Bianco.

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291 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Gormanilius
    The deaths keep rolling. All the early blues men finally went 30 years ago. And now some of rocks best men are passing. Its life, but a sad reality.
    08don
    wow this sucks, especially since another article from today is about the day the music died, RIP
    ripdime04
    rip brother well hell you're free bird now you can leave here tomorrow and baby we all rememeber you
    rockinlespaul
    Damn, that just hit me like a truck. I'm glad I got to see him live once. RIP Billy, I love your music.
    Lacebad
    R.I.P If I leave here tomorrow Would you still remember me? For I must be travelling on, now, 'Cause there's too many places I've got to see. But, if I stayed here with you, girl, Things just couldn't be the same. 'Cause I'm as free as a bird now, And this bird you can not change. Lord knows, I can't change.
    lunaticfringe93
    Only 3 members died in the plane crash one was a backup singer you never heard of and Steven Gaines was fairly new to the band when the plane went down. Just goes to see how much ronnie did for the band. It'd be nice if the article showed some respect and got its information right.
    therealtater
    acdcfan1556 wrote: therealtater wrote: Wow thats it for Skynyrd now isnt it? I heard that after so many orginal memebers died Ronnie wanted them to abandon the band and i think he was the last one R.I.P. they still have one of their original guitarists
    Ronnie said in his will if 3 or less members of the orginal band are left they are not allowed to use the name Lynyrd Skynyrd or any songs
    darkslde91
    iron he missed it on a tuesday mad respect R.I.P. tuesdays gone with the wind...
    MasterMongoose
    Why does he die while Lars gets to live? Lol Seriously though, RIP. As darksauce said: Another music legend dies. You have my respect man.
    zakk_wylde4
    The ironic thing is Freebird was about another legend dying, Duane Allman, one of the best slide guitar players ever. R.I.P. both of them
    k.i.k.e.
    RIP The important thing about falling isn't standin up, it's how you fell... he might be dead, but not forgotten nor gone...
    flame_mc
    A complete generation that's leaving us... Time doesn't forgive anyone... R.I.P
    metalmagic!
    all influences have to go... new ones will come, but not so many will shine like he did. when they all are gone, the new legends will be mourning, but inspired, thus inspiring the next generation. if we must watch them go, lets learn the lessons they teach. not just the music.
    bass7player21
    its sad that he died, and may he rest in peace, but i know if i had a doctor's appointment to check my cardio health, i would not miss it.
    thycrusader
    Wait a minute. it took the ambulance one whole hour to reach him? he called at 1 a.m. and they tried to revive for a few miutes and pronounced him dead? Anyone see a Hendrix pattern?
    Italy's Finest
    It makes me so happy to see all these comments for a musician... I love the music Skynrd has made, I got high as a kite watchin y'all play twice! Rest easy brother, rest easy. Death gives us wings where we had thorns.
    chippy_666
    How many legendes have we lost in the past few months, this is a horible start to 09 R.I.P
    corycy
    He can have Steve Gaines on guitar, Ronni
    lunaticfringe93 wrote: Only 3 members died in the plane crash one was a backup singer you never heard of and Steven Gaines was fairly new to the band when the plane went down. Just goes to see how much ronnie did for the band. It'd be nice if the article showed some respect and got its information right.
    That backup singer you never heard of was Steve Gaines' sister Cassie Gaines.
    SlyDevil13
    well i guess he's a free bird now. whats with all the deaths? we won't have anyone left soon. Brad Delp from Boston died last year, the sax player(i forgot the name) died from Dave Matthews band, and now the list keeps growing.
    danielflasher95
    well...thats really bad luck for all of us lynyrd skynyrd fans...should've seen them live before his death... R.I.P. Billy Powell
    justinb904
    OFFFEJ wrote: orange park is like 10 miles from my house
    just a hop across the river for me RIP
    Wood & Metal
    This is very sad to me. When I read the article, the intro to the live version of Freebird came instantly to my memory. Such beautiful music. I've been a pretty casual fan of Skynyrd until just a few days ago when I was checking out music by Lynyrd online, and I delved beyond the most well known hits into the original albums and really liked what I heard, and I made the commitment to buying a couple albums of theirs in the future. That must have been during the last 24 hours of his life that my interest in Lynyrd Skynyrd grew. What a strange coincidence! Rest in peace. I'm going to go listen to Free Bird. I haven't heard that song in a long time.