Edward Calhoun King (September 14, 1949 – August 22, 2018) was an American musician.
He was 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 the single "Incense and Peppermints", which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
While with the band he played both electric guitar and bass guitar.
King met the members of Jacksonville, Florida-based Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd when the band opened 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 had 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 on the band's first three albums: (Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd), 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 include "Poison Whiskey", "Saturday Night Special", "Whiskey Rock-a-Roller" and "Workin' For MCA".
Band biographer Mark Ribowsky said that King was the outsider in Lynyrd Skynyrd as he was the only non-Southerner, but that King made the band professional. King detailed his initial exit from the band in the documentary If I Leave Here Tomorrow: A Film About Lynyrd Skynyrd, saying "Ronnie [Van Zant] and my guitar roadie who changed my strings were thrown in jail in Ann Arbor. They didn't arrive...until 10 minutes before we went on. I had to play on old strings and I broke two strings during 'Free Bird'. After, Ronnie was riding me, and a lightbulb went off and I said, "That's it." I went back to my room, packed up my stuff and left."
King decided to leave the band in 1975 during the "Torture Tour". He was replaced in 1976 by Steve Gaines, who shared King's birthdate. Gaines 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 in the reunited Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1987, and played a major role. He was forced to leave the band again in 1996 because of congestive heart failure.
King, along with all pre-crash members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Famein 2006.
In 2011, King underwent a successful heart transplant. In 2017, he appeared as a customer in the Discovery Channel docudrama Moonshiners, buying $30,000 worth of premium gin.
In the documentary If I Leave Here Tomorrow: A Film About Lynyrd Skynyrd, band member Gary Rossingtoncommented on King's business-minded nature while in the band. In the film, Rossington stated that King would "stop and buy $100 worth of Slim Jims and have him [sic] in a briefcase and, driving an hour or two, you get hungry, he'd sell them to us and triple the price."
According to a Nashville news station WTVF, King had been battling cancer in the months prior to his death. King died in his Nashville, Tennessee, home on August 22, 2018 at 68 years of age. His death was announced through his personal Facebook page.
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."
King's guitar playing has influenced many subsequent musicians, including Metallica bassist Cliff Burton.
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