Former Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Ed King, who co-wrote the rock classic “Sweet Home Alabama,” died Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee. He was 68.
Born and raised in California, King had his first brush with fame as a member of Strawberry Alarm Clock. The band’s psychedelic classic “Incense And Peppermints” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967.
King co-wrote the music but was not credited on the single. He was on tour with the band in 1968 when he met the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, which opened for Strawberry Alarm Clock a few times, according to AllMusic.com.
King officially joined Skynyrd in 1972 and was a band member until 1975 and again from 1987 to 1996, according to the Tennesseean.
He left the group in 1996 when he had congestive heart failure and underwent a successful heart transplant in 2011.
While in the band, King co-wrote “Sweet Home Alabama” with fellow members Gary Rossington and Ronnie Van Zant.
The song hit No. 8 in 1974 and the lyrics were intended as an answer to the Neil Young song “Southern Man,” which dealt with themes of racism in the American South.
But it was King’s opening guitar riff that really sold the song, so much so that Young later admitted to Rolling Stone that he would “rather play ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ than ‘Southern Man’ anytime.”
Other songs King co-wrote for the band include “Saturday Night Special,” “Poison Whiskey,” “Mr. Banker” and “Swamp Music,” according to WRTV.
King was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, along with other early members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, according to Fox News.