Remembering Ed King

Like the rest of the Skynyrd nation, news of Ed King’s passing came as a shock to me. What an absolute legend he was. His distinctive guitar playing helped define the Skynyrd sound and Ronnie Van Zant held him in high esteem, of that there is no question.

We all have our favourite Ed King moments. For me, it was meeting the man and witnessing his performances during the Tribute Tour in 1988. Ed was loving his second coming with the band, his playing was at its best and he gelled magnificently with Randall Hall and Gary Rossington. The three shows at the Fox Theatre, Atlanta in February 1993 also stand out.

I first met Ed in New York in September 1988. It was the morning after the band’s blistering show at The Ritz. Breakfast in the band’s hotel. I was star struck. My hero sitting before me. He was chatty, engaging and charming. He seemed genuinely happy that a fan had travelled across the Atlantic to watch him and his Skynyrd band mates perform. He spoke affectionately about Scotland, playing the Glasgow Apollo and Edinburgh Odeon, when recalling Skynyrd’s first European tour in 1974.

Later that night, aboard the band’s tour bus hurtling from the Meadowlands Arena back to New York, I made the mistake of sitting on Ed’s bag. “Get.Up!”, he instructed with a schoolmaster’s vigour. Marshall Tucker Band’s Toy Caldwell, who guested with the band at the New Jersey show, laughed as Ed stared at his crushed bag and then threw me a steely gaze. ‘Sorry, Ed’, I quivered. However, in the blink of an eye, my indiscretion was forgotten and minutes later he was all sweetness and light.

After he departed Skynyrd in 1996, he continued to engage with fans online. We appreciated that access, that window into his world. He shared band stories and posted videos of himself jamming on his classic Gibson guitars.

Ed leaves behind an incredible legacy: the many memorable songs he authored with Ronnie Van Zant, not just ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ but other gems too: ‘Poison Whisky’, Whisky Rock-A-Roller’, ‘Workin’ For MCA’, the list goes on. A remarkable writer and guitarist. Heartfelt thanks, Ed, for all the year’s of enjoyment you brought us all.

My condolences to his wife Sharon and his family. With much love, may God rest his soul.

The two photos are courtesy of former Skynyrd road manager, Paul Abraham:

  1. Ed with Randall Hall backstage at Alpine Valley, Wisconsin.
  2. Ed on the tour bus, fooling around with Kurt Custer, Paul, Big Lou and Ani Pinatian.