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Showing posts with label Allen Collins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Allen Collins. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I Ain't The One - Lynyrd Skynyrd

Larkin Allen Collins Jr. (July 19, 1952 – January 23, 1990) was one of the founding members and guitarists of Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, and co-wrote many of the band's songs with late frontman Ronnie Van Zant. He was born in Jacksonville, Florida
Allen Collins joined Skynyrd in Jacksonville, Florida just two weeks after Ronnie Van Zant and Gary Rossington, along with Bob Burns and Larry Junstrom. So came the birth of Lynyrd Skynyrd in the summer of 1964. Allen Collins and lead singer Ronnie Van Zant co-wrote many of the biggest Skynyrd hits, including "Free Bird", "Gimme Three Steps", and "That Smell". The band received national success beginning in 1973 while opening for The Who on their Quadrophenia tour. On October 20, 1977, the Skynyrd plane crashed into a forest in Mississippi killing three band members, including Van Zant. Collins was seriously injured in the crash, suffering two broken vertebrae in his neck and severe damage to his right arm. While amputation was recommended, Collins' father refused and Allen eventually recovered.

After the crash, Collins' life took a turn for the worse. Gary Rossington stated, "Al took it the worst when Ronnie and Steve died. He started to question religion..." (a major part of the band's dynamic) ..." and he started drinking more and doin' more drugs."

During the early 1980s, Collins continued to perform on stage in The Rossington-Collins Band which enjoyed modest success, releasing two albums (Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere, and This Is the Way), and charting a few singles (notably "Don't Misunderstand Me"). In 1980, Collins' wife Kathy suddenly died of a hemorrhage. Allen began a downward spiral, using drugs and alcohol to assuage his grief. Missed concerts and conflicts within the band resulted in the disbanding of Rossington-Collins in 1982, and the start of the Allen Collins Band, which released one album, Here, There & Back in 1983. The six band members were Skynyrd keyboardist Billy Powell and bassist Leon Wilkeson, along with lead singer Jimmy Dougherty, drummer Derek Hess, and guitarists Barry Lee Harwood and Randall Hall. In 1984, Jacksonville guitarist Mike Owings joined the Allen Collins Band until its eventual disbandment.
In 1986, Collins was involved in a car accident, claiming the life of his girlfriend and leaving the guitarist paralyzed from the waist down, with limited use of his arms and hands. Collins plead no contest to vehicular manslaughter as well as driving under the influence of alcohol. He would never play guitar on-stage again.

All remaining members of Lynyrd Skynyrd reunited to perform in 1987, but due to his injury Collins only served as musical director. As part of his plea bargain for the 1986 accident, Collins addressed fans at every Skynyrd concert with an explanation of why he could not perform, citing the dangers of drinking and driving, as well as drugs and alcohol. Because of Collins' accident, the band donated a sizable amount of concert proceeds from the 1987-88 tour to the Miami Project, which is involved in treatment of paralysis. Collins founded Roll For Rock Wheelchair Events and Benefit Concerts in 1988 to raise awareness and to provide opportunities for those living with spinal cord injury and other physical challenges. Collins died January 23, 1990 from chronic pneumonia, a complication of the paralysis. He is buried beside his wife in Jacksonville, Florida.
For most of Skynyrd's tenure, Collins used a Gibson Firebird guitar fitted with a chrome, dog-eared P-90 pickup in the bridge position and a Gibson "teaspoon" nickel vibrato arm. In 1976 he switched to a natural-finished korina Gibson Explorer and would use that all the way through his tenure with the Allen Collins Band. Starting in late 1977, he would also use a Gibson Les Paul Jr. occasionally. And on "Gimme Back My Bullets", "Sweet Home Alabama", "Every Mothers Son" and many other songs, he used a Sunburst Fender Stratocaster after Ed King left. Collins has been filmed playing an all-black, rosewood neck Stratocaster with white single-coil pickups and white control knobs. In 2003, Gibson Guitars honored Allen with a limited edition Explorer. The guitar is made of African limba wood and features an aged finished, Maestro vibrola, and classic humbucking pickups.
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