Lynyrd Skynyrd Members

September 30, 2011 in Archive

Lynyrd Skynyrd is an American rock band that was formed in 1964 In Jacksonville, Florida by three high school friends. The band was first known as “The Noble Five” when Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, and Gary Rossington formed it. Later in 1965, the band name was changed to “My Backyard” when Larry Junstrom and Bob Burns were accepted into the group. In 1970, Ronnie Van Zant decided to call the group Lynyrd Skynyrd which was an adaptation of a nickname given to one of his high school teachers. Mr. Leonard Skinner was a very strict physical education who was very hard on students who had long hair.

Ronnie Van Zant

Ronnie Van Zant was the lead singer for Lynyrd Skynyrd when it initially started. Ronnie was the son of Lacy and Marion Van Zant. He grew up in Jacksonville, Florida and did not always have a clear interest in music. As a boy he explored other avenues such as boxing and stock car racing before settling down on music as a profession. Van Zant lived a very prosperous life and enjoyed the fame found in the band as well as having a wife and daughter. Unfortunately, his short life ended in October of 1977 when his plane crashed on the way to Louisiana. Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines, also died in the crash.

Johnny Van Zant is the brother of Ronnie Van Zant. He has been into music his entire life. He was in several bands before joining the reunited Lynyrd Skynyrd band in 1984 and becoming the lead vocalist. Van Zant is currently having medical complications which prevented him from performing in recent shows. The last report was that he had symptoms closely resembling those of a staph infection. He was hospitalized and treated with IV nourishment and a regimen of antibiotics.

Lynyrd Skynyrd backup vocalists include members such as Ed King, Steve Gaines, Randall Hall, Leon Wilkeson, Ean Evans, Robert Kearns, and Mark Matejka.


There were many guitarists who played for Lynyrd Skynyrd throughout the years. Gary Rossington, Allen Collins, and Larry Junstrom (Bass) were the three original guitarists for the band. Rossington plays the rhythm guitar and is the only remaining original member of the band. He grew up in Jacksonville, Florida and helped to form the Lynyrd Skynyrd band when he was a teenager.

Allen Collins played both the lead and the rhythm guitars. He joined the band two weeks after the other members joined in 1964. Collins helped to co-write many of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s famous hits such as “Free Bird” and “That Smell”. Allen survived the crash back in 1977, but he got involved with drugs and alcohol as a result of the pain from losing some of his closest friends. Collins died of pneumonia in 1990.

Larry Junstrom played the bass guitar with Lynyrd Skynyrd until he was replaced in 1972 by Greg T. Walker. In 1975 he joined another seminal Southern Rock band from Jacksonville, 38 Special.

Other guitarists who played for the band were artists such as Steve Gaines, Randall Hall, Mike Estes, Tim Lindsey, and Hughie Thomasson. Current guitarists include Ricky Medlocke, and Mark Matejka.


Bob Burns and Rickey Medlocke were the two drummers for Lynyrd Skynyrd. Bob Burns was an original band member. He played from 1964 to 1971 and then returned to the band in 1972 and played until 1974. Burns become emotionally overwhelmed by living the traveling band lifestyle and left the group in 1974. He made a return appearance in 2006 at the Rock and Roll Hal of Fame induction.

Ricky Medlocke played the drums for a year in Lynyrd Skynyrd from 1971-1972 to cover for Bob Burns. He then went on to pursue other things. He had his own band named Blackfoot which he named after his Blackfoot descent. Medlocke rejoined Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1996 at the request of Gary Rossington. He continues to play with the band.


Billy Powell joined the band in 1970 until he passed way in 2009. He was replaced by Peter Pisarczyk. Powell grew up in Texas and was raised by a military family. When his father died of cancer his family moved to Jacksonville, Florida where he met the other band members. Powell was in the accident in 1977, but only suffered lacerations. He recorded three albums with a christian rock band named “Vision” in the eighties. Powell died on January 28, 2009 of heart complications.

Over the years there have been many people who have touched the lives of others through the band Lynyrd Skynyrd. The ones who have died will never be forgotten and the ones who are alive will continue to touch and change lives.

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