Post by ekforum on Nov 29, 2009 10:31:47 GMT -5
I am mainly known as the one who verbally counted off "Sweet Home Alabama" then played the infamous Stratocaster riff as well as the solos in that tune. I am the luckiest guitar player that ever lived. Who could've guessed that song would pay the rent for over 30 years.
I was born in Glendale, California on September 14th 1949. At the age of 12, I was inspired by the Southern California surf bands - so I began playing the guitar. I am self-taught. The 6 months of lessons I took at the beginning barely count. My guitar teacher couldn't play Dick Dale's "Surf Beat", so I quit taking lessons. I sat for hours in front of a turntable with records by Duane Eddy, Lonnie Mack & James Burton.
By the time I was 17, I'd joined a band in L.A. that eventually became The Strawberry Alarm Clock. We had a #1 record in November, 1967 called "Incense & Peppermints" and did two tours with The Beach Boys (which is, to this day, the highlight of my life). While on tour with the Clock, I met a band from Jacksonville, Florida that had just changed its name to Lynyrd Skynyrd. I told the lead singer, Ronnie Van Zant, that if he ever needed another guitar player I would really like to play in his band.
In late 1972, Skynyrd's bass player, Leon Wilkeson, quit the band and Van Zant called. Though I had a difficult time fitting in at first, within a few months Skynyrd had completed its first album Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd on Al Kooper's label Sounds of the South. With standards like "Gimme Three Steps", "Simple Man" and "Freebird" , the band began its rise.
Before the release of the first album, Van Zant took me aside and told me I was the worst bass biotextplayer he had ever played with. Thinking I was out of the band, Van Zant said he wanted me to switch to guitar so that the band could recreate the intensity that had been captured on the recording of Pronounced. I agreed and Ronnie was able to persuade Wilkeson to rejoin the band. "Sweet Home Alabama" was written at the next rehearsal and the material for the Second Helping album was completed in a few weeks.
I left Skynyrd in June, 1975 (after the release of the Nuthin' Fancy album) and was asked to re-join for the Tribute Tour in 1987. Lots more details are contained in my website - I hope you've got the time to page through it. I've been happily retired since 1996 and now live in Nashville, TN.