Robert Burns Jr. met a fatal accident late Friday when his car went off the road as it approached a curve. Hitting a mailbox and a tree, Burns died at the scene and was noted for not wearing a seat belt. Authorities are investigating other details surrounding the crash.
Burns is more popularly known as the original drummer and founding member Lynyrd Skynyrd, a rock group whose hits include "Sweet Home Alabama," "Free Bird" and "Gimme Three Steps." The band was founded in Jacksonville, Florida in the mid-1960s.
Burns had been busy performing with the group from its inception and promoting their debut album "Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd" which launched the band to fame. Likewise, the album's success became significant in establishing the sound of southern rock which rose in huge popularity during the decade.
Burns had become tired of spending life on the road and left the group in January 1975. He was replaced by Kentucky native Artimus Pyle who became the group's new drummer. That same year, the group released their third album "Nuthin' Fancy" after recording the songs in 17 days.
Years later, band members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines were all killed when their plane crashed in Mississippi. Other fatalities include assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray. The crash was survived by other band members (Pyle, Hawkins, Powell, Wilkeson, Rossington and Collins), tour manager Ron Eckerman and road crew. They sustained serious injuries instead.
After leaving the group, Burns continued to play just for the sake of having fun. He also made some guest appearances nationally, Robert Burns Sr. says. The latter added that during the group's early years in Florida, they would rehearse in the Burns' family garage.
Robert Burns Sr. recalled his son's character and had nothing but praises for him.
"He had the manners that would suit the King of England," said Burns Sr. "Very soft-spoken and extremely well-mannered person to come out of that kind of industry."
Gary Rossington, the group's co-founder and fellow member, said on Facebook that he couldn't find a word to say upon hearing about Burns' death. He remembered him as a "funny guy" and a "great great drummer."
In 2004, the group was ranked no. 95 by Rolling Stone magazine on their list called "100 Greatest Artists of All Time."
In 2006, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Fellow inductees include the Sex Pistols, Miles Davis, Blondie and Black Sabbath.