You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Leon Wilkeson

Lynyrd Skynyrd bassist Leon Wilkeson was discovered dead Friday July 27 in a hotel near Jacksonville, Fla., where he was taking a break from the band’s summer touring schedule. He was 49 and had apparently died in his sleep. Cause of death was under investigation.

Wilkenson was an original member of the band, which formed in Jacksonville in the late 1960s.

With hits such as “Free Bird,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Gimme Three Steps,” “That Smell,” and “Call Me the Breeze,” the band became a staple in American rock arenas.

Just prior to the release of the band’s fifth record, “Street Survivors,” the band’s chartered plane crashed Oct. 20, 1977, resulting in the deaths of lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and background singer Cassie Gaines.

Reuniting in 1987 with Johnny Van Zant, Ronnie’s younger brother, fronting the band, Lynyrd Skynyrd then suffered another tragedy as founding member Allen Collins (who, in 1986, had been paralyzed in a car wreck) died from complications while battling pneumonia.

The band still performs sold-out concerts, and its song “Lyve From Steeltown” was recently certified gold.

More Scene

  • Esquire 'Mavericks of Hollywood' party

    Terry Crews on His Sexual Assault Lawsuit: 'If I Don’t Get Justice, Nobody Can'

    Lynyrd Skynyrd bassist Leon Wilkeson was discovered dead Friday July 27 in a hotel near Jacksonville, Fla., where he was taking a break from the band’s summer touring schedule. He was 49 and had apparently died in his sleep. Cause of death was under investigation. Wilkenson was an original member of the band, which formed […]

  • 'Atlanta' TV show premiere

    'Atlanta Robbin' Season' Will 'Show What Makes the City Tick,' Producer Says

    Lynyrd Skynyrd bassist Leon Wilkeson was discovered dead Friday July 27 in a hotel near Jacksonville, Fla., where he was taking a break from the band’s summer touring schedule. He was 49 and had apparently died in his sleep. Cause of death was under investigation. Wilkenson was an original member of the band, which formed […]

  • Mr Chow 50th Anniversary celebration

    Mr. Chow 50th Anniversary Party Draws Stevie Wonder, Heidi Klum & More Stars

    Lynyrd Skynyrd bassist Leon Wilkeson was discovered dead Friday July 27 in a hotel near Jacksonville, Fla., where he was taking a break from the band’s summer touring schedule. He was 49 and had apparently died in his sleep. Cause of death was under investigation. Wilkenson was an original member of the band, which formed […]

  • Paley Center for Media presents They

    African-American Showrunners Talk Strides in TV Representation

    Lynyrd Skynyrd bassist Leon Wilkeson was discovered dead Friday July 27 in a hotel near Jacksonville, Fla., where he was taking a break from the band’s summer touring schedule. He was 49 and had apparently died in his sleep. Cause of death was under investigation. Wilkenson was an original member of the band, which formed […]

  • 'Annihilation' film premiere

    'Annihilation' Star Jennifer Jason Leigh Responds to Whitewashing Accusations

    Lynyrd Skynyrd bassist Leon Wilkeson was discovered dead Friday July 27 in a hotel near Jacksonville, Fla., where he was taking a break from the band’s summer touring schedule. He was 49 and had apparently died in his sleep. Cause of death was under investigation. Wilkenson was an original member of the band, which formed […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content