Robert “Bob” Burns, the former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer who appeared on the band’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Gimme Three Steps” and “Free Bird,” died Friday night in a single-car accident in Cartersville, Georgia, the Cartersville Patch reports. He was 64. Burns was among the founding members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame southern rock group and appeared on the band’s first two albums, 1973’s (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd) and 1974’s Second Helping.
A Georgia State Patrol spokesperson told the Cartersville Patch that Burns was driving toward a right turn when the vehicle left the road and Burns “struck a mailbox and a tree with the front of the vehicle.” Burns was the only occupant of the car and was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. Police were attempting to determine whether weather played a role in the accident.
Burns performed alongside singer Ronnie Van Zant, bassist Larry Junstrom and guitarists Gary Rossington and Allen Collins in the Noble Five and One Percent before the band settled on the name Lynyrd Skynyrd, a nod to the Jacksonville, Florida teens’ physical education teacher. Burns was behind the kit on the band’s earliest demo recordings along with (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd) and Second Helping, which spawned many of the group’s most enduring hits like “Free Bird,” “Simple Man,” “Gimme Three Steps” and “Sweet Home Alabama.”
Burns left Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1974 after growing weary of touring; Artimus Pyle subsequently replaced him as drummer for 1975’s Nuthin’ Fancy. However, after more than three decades away, Burns rejoined Lynyrd Skynyrd onstage at the band’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony performance in 2006, where the drummer was enshrined alongside his former band mates.