Former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Robert Burns Jr. died Friday night (April 3) after crashing his car into a mailbox and a tree near his home in Cartersville, Georgia.
Burns, 64, was not wearing a seat belt while driving alone at the time of the single-car accident.
Burns played on the band’s first two albums — 1973’s (Pronounced ’leh-’nérd ’skin-’nérd) and 1974’s Second Helping — which included classics such as “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Freebird” and “Simple Man.”
He left the band in 1974 and was replaced by Artimus Pyle, who survived the 1977 plane crash that claimed the lives of lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and vocalist Cassie Gaines.
In their early days in the Jacksonville, Florida, area, Burns and Van Zant played in the Noble Five and One Percent with bassist Larry Junstrom and guitarists Gary Rossington and Allen Collins. They later adopted the band name Lynyrd Skynyrd as a play on the name of Leonard Skinner, their former high school physical education teacher who allegedly hated their long hair and rock music.
Burns was present when Lynyrd Skynyrd were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.
In a post on the band’s Facebook page, Rossington offered a message following Burns’ death.
“Today, I’m at a loss for words, but I just remember Bob being a funny guy,” he wrote. “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 (on Thursday and Friday, April 2-3) … 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.”