Ed King, the former Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist who is credited as co-writer on the band’s greatest hit, “Sweet Home Alabama,” died at the age of 68 in Nashville, according to his Facebook page.
“It is with great sorrow we announce the passing of Ed King who died at his home in Nashville, Tennessee, on August 22nd, 2018,” the announcement reads. “We thank his many friends and fans for their love and support of Ed during his life and career.”
Band co-founder Gary Rossington confirmed the news on Twitter:
“I’ve just found out about Ed’s passing and I’m shocked and saddened,” he said. “Ed was our brother, and a great Songwriter and Guitar player. I know he will be reunited with the rest of the boys in Rock & Roll Heaven. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sharon and his family.”
Family friend Scott Coopwood said King died after battling cancer.
He grew up in Glendale, California, and performed in the Hollywood rock scene with the band Strawberry Alarm Clock before joining Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1972 to complete what has been called its “three-guitar sound.”
“Sweet Home Alabama” was a response to Neil Young’s critiques of segregation and exploitation in the South —”Southern Man” and “Alabama.”
Lynyrd Skynyrd was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, with the institution noting that “Ed King’s guitar was the note you heard first and what stuck out in a song.”
“Ed was our brother, and a great songwriter and guitar player,” said Gary Rossington, a founding member of the band. “I know he will be reunited with the rest of the boys in Rock and Roll Heaven.”
I’ve just found out about Ed’s passing and I’m shocked and saddened. Ed was our brother, and a great Songwriter and Guitar player. I know he will be reunited with the rest of the boys in Rock & Roll Heaven. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sharon and his family. -Gary Rossington
— Lynyrd Skynyrd (@Skynyrd) August 23, 2018
King left the band two years before a plane crash killed singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and his sister, vocalist Cassie Gaines, in 1977. He rejoined the group 10 years later when it reunited with Johnny Van Zant taking his brother’s place as lead vocalist. King retired in 1996.
Keyboardist Billy Powell, who played on “Sweet Home Alabama” and survived the plane crash, died in 2010 of a suspected heart attack. And in 2015, founding member Bob Burns, a one-time drummer for the band, died in a car crash.
Memorial events for King had not been announced.