Drum­mer for Lynyrd Skynyrd

ROBERT BURNS JR., 1950 - 2015

Los Angeles Times - - OBITUARIES - By David Colker david.colker@la­times.com

Rock drum­mer Robert Burns Jr., a found­ing mem­ber of the hard-driv­ing South­ern band Lynyrd Skynyrd, died Fri­day in a sin­gle-ve­hi­cle crash near his home in Cartersville, Ga. He was 64.

Burns was alone in the car when it went off the road near a curve, hit­ting a mail­box and crash­ing into a tree, said his fa­ther, Robert Burns Sr. It was rain­ing around the time of the ac­ci­dent, which is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Robert Burns Jr. died at the scene. Ge­or­gia State Pa­trol spokes­woman Tracey Wat­son said he was not wear­ing a seat belt, ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press.

He was born Nov. 24, 1950, in Gainesville, Fla. Be­fore it be­came fa­mous, the band, fronted by singer Ron­nie Van Zant, prac­ticed in the Burns fam­ily garage in Jack­sonville, Fla.

The group was an al­most im­me­di­ate hit with its first al­bum in 1973, and in its early years while Burns was in the band, it recorded some of its best­known songs, in­clud­ing “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Free Bird.”

But Lynyrd Skynyrd had a rep­u­ta­tion for hard living, and though Van Zant was es­pe­cially known for be­ing rowdy, Burns was no stranger to it. “You couldn’t help it and be in that busi­ness,” Robert Burns Sr. said.

Burns Jr. left the group in the mid-1970s af­ter hav­ing a dis­abling re­ac­tion to a drug he took in Europe, the el­der Burns said.

Af­ter a long hos­pi­tal­iza­tion, the drum­mer re­cov­ered and even­tu­ally be­came drug-free, his fa­ther said. He did not re­join the band.

In 1977, tragedy struck Lynyrd Skynyrd when a plane tak­ing the band to a con­cert crashed in Mis­sis­sippi, killing three in the group: Van Zant, gui­tarist Steven Gaines and backup vo­cal­ist Cassie Gaines.

Burns is sur­vived by his fa­ther, his mother, Jane Burns; sis­ters Patti Lynn Burns and Deb­o­rah Burns McGuire; broth­ers Daran and Michael Burns; and step­daugh­ters Lau­ren and Kristen Burns.

His wife, Mar­sha, died in 2011.

Jeff Kravitz FilmMagic Inc.

HARD-DRIV­ING SOUTH­ERN BAND Robert Burns Jr. per­forms dur­ing the in­duc­tion cer­e­mony for Lynyrd Skynyrd at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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