Edward C. “Ed” King (September 14, 1949 – August 22, 2018) was an American musician. He was best known as the guitarist for the psychedelic rock band Strawberry Alarm Clock and guitarist and bassist for the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd from 1972 to 1975 and again from 1987 to 1996.
Strawberry Alarm Clock
King was one of the founding members of Strawberry Alarm Clock, formed in Los Angeles in the mid-1960s. The band’s largest success was with a song that King co-wrote, “Incense and Peppermints” (but, along with keyboardist Mark Weitz, did not get credit). The song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in October 1967. Their follow-up single, “Tomorrow,” reached No. 23 on January 1.
King met the members of Jacksonville, Florida-based Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd when the band opened up for Strawberry Alarm Clock on a few shows in early 1968. It wasn’t until 1972 that he joined Skynyrd, replacing Leon Wilkeson on bass, who left the band briefly. Wilkeson rejoined the band, and King switched to guitar, creating the triple-guitar attack that became a signature sound for the band.
His guitar playing and songwriting skills were an essential element to the band’s first three albums: Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd, Second Helping, and Nuthin’ Fancy. King co-wrote “Sweet Home Alabama,” and his voice counted the “one, two, three,” before he launched into his famous riff to start the song. Other songs that King wrote or co-wrote the music for include “Poison Whiskey,” “Saturday Night Special,” “Mr. Banker,” “Swamp Music,” “Whiskey Rock-a-Roller,” “Railroad Song,” “I Need You” and “Workin’ For MCA.”
King decided to leave the band in 1975 during the “Torture Tour.” He was replaced in 1976 by Steve Gaines, who was killed in a plane crash along with his sister Cassie Gaines and lead singer Ronnie Van Zant on October 20, 1977.
King was one of the guitarists for the reunited Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1987, and played a major role in the reunited band. He was forced to leave Lynyrd Skynyrd again in 1996 due to congestive heart failure.
King, along with all pre-crash members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2014, King played on Skinny Molly‘s album: Here For A Good Time. He played on the song “Make It Easy.”
In 2011, Ed King underwent a successful heart transplant. In 2017, King appeared as a customer in the Discovery Channel docudrama Moonshiners, buying $30,000 worth of premium gin made by moonshiners Mark Ramsey and “Digger” Manes.
Lynyrd Skynyrd member Gary Rossington, released a statement after King’s death stating, “Ed was our brother, and a great songwriter and guitar player. I know he will be reunited with the rest of the boys in Rock and Roll Heaven. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
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- Runtagh, Jordan (2017-10-20). “Remembering Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Deadly 1977 Plane Crash”. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
- Chamberlain, Chris (14 May 2013). “Rock Legend Ed King Now Spends His Free Time Searching For Epic Meals”. Food Republic. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
- “R.I.P. Ed King, former guitarist of Lynyrd Skynyrd has died at 68”. Consequence of Sound. 2018-08-23. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
- Gaydos, Ryan (2018-08-23). “Ed King, former guitarist for Lynyrd Skynyrd who co-wrote ‘Sweet Home Alabama,’ dead at 68”. Fox News. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
- “Former Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist and ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ co-writer Ed King dead at 68”. The Montgomery Advertiser. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
- “For Metallica’s James Hetfield, This Lynyrd Skynyrd Classic Hits Home Like No Other Song Can”. Societyofrock.com. Retrieved August 23, 2018.