Tuesday, November 20, 2018
  • Soundcheck

Ed King, ex-Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist who co-wrote ‘Sweet Home Alabama,’ dies at 68

Ed King wasn't from Florida. But he played a huge role in one of Florida's greatest contributions to rock 'n' roll history.

King, the former Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist who co-wrote Sweet Home Alabama, died Wednesday in Nashville, according to a post on his Facebook page. No cause of death was announced, but according to Rolling Stone, he had battled lung cancer.

A California native, King was a founding member of psych-rock the Strawberry Alarm Clock, and was an uncredited co-writer of their hit Incense and Peppermints. He joined the Jacksonville-based Skynyrd after opening for them around 1972, and played on their first three albums, co-writing songs like Workin' For MCA and Saturday Night Special.

But it was Sweet Home Alabama that solidified his place in Southern rock history. The way the band has described it, guitarist Gary Rossington was strumming out the song's primary chord progression. King heard it and started playing around with it, ending up with the iconic plucked-out version that kicks off the song. That's also King counting off the "1, 2, 3" at the intro.

Sweet Home Alabama has been called the "Southern national anthem," and even after King left the band, Skynyrd knew it would be tough to write anything as big.

"You only get one chance to write a Sweet Home Alabama," singer Johnny Van Zant said in March. "We never even tried to top that."

RELATED: Flags, farewells and Florida: Lynyrd Skynyrd goes deep on their controversial history

King never quite shed his California personality, even after writing a piece of Southern rock history. He left Skynyrd in 1975, and was not in the band at the time of the 1977 plane crash that killed singer Ronnie Van Zant. He rejoined a reformed version of the band in 1987 and toured with them for about a decade.

Artists, including Rossington, paid tribute to King on Twitter.

— Jay Cridlin

Comments
Rolling Stones, Garth Brooks announce stadium concerts in Florida

Rolling Stones, Garth Brooks announce stadium concerts in Florida

The rock and country heavyweights are coming to Miami, Jacksonville and Gainesville.
Published: 11/20/18
SoundBytes: Thomas Rhett, Kimya Dawson, JD McPherson, Jo Koy and more

SoundBytes: Thomas Rhett, Kimya Dawson, JD McPherson, Jo Koy and more

Catch up on today's Tampa Bay concert announcements.
Published: 11/19/18
Review: John Legend kicks off crisp Christmas tour with style at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

Review: John Legend kicks off crisp Christmas tour with style at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

The first of the crooner's holiday concerts opened in Florida on Thursday.
Published: 11/16/18
SoundBytes: Morbid Angel, Camper Van Beethoven, Joyryde, the Floozies and more

SoundBytes: Morbid Angel, Camper Van Beethoven, Joyryde, the Floozies and more

Catch up on today's Tampa Bay concert announcements.
Published: 11/15/18
98 Rockfest lineup: Godsmack, Three Days Grace, more coming to Amalie Arena in Tampa

98 Rockfest lineup: Godsmack, Three Days Grace, more coming to Amalie Arena in Tampa

Motionless In White, Rival Sons, P.O.D. and more will also perform.
Published: 11/14/18
John Legend talks Christmas songs, Chrissy Teigen, EGOTs, political activism and more

John Legend talks Christmas songs, Chrissy Teigen, EGOTs, political activism and more

The Grammy (and Emmy and Oscar and Tony)-winning crooner's first holiday tour kicks off Thursday in Clearwater.
Published: 11/14/18
Review: Christina Aguilera brings arena-level range, production to the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg

Review: Christina Aguilera brings arena-level range, production to the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg

The onetime Mouseketeer is mounting something of a comeback, and it's quite a sight to see.
Published: 11/14/18
SoundBytes: Julia Michaels, Backstreet Boys, Pete Yorn, Candlebox and more

SoundBytes: Julia Michaels, Backstreet Boys, Pete Yorn, Candlebox and more

Catch up on today's Tampa Bay concert announcements.
Published: 11/13/18
Santana coming to Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg

Santana coming to Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg

The guitar icon is the first act announced of a planned summerlong concert series.
Published: 11/13/18
Katharine McPhee cancels Thursday’s concert in Clearwater

Katharine McPhee cancels Thursday’s concert in Clearwater

The 'American Idol' alum is under doctor's orders to rest.
Published: 11/13/18