Classic rock guitarist Ed King, best known for his former position in Lynyrd Skynyrd and for co-writing the band's hit "Sweet Home Alabama," died Wednesday at his Nashville home, his family says. He was 68.
A cause of death was not specified, but King has been battling lung cancer and was recently hospitalized for the disease.
A message on the rocker's Facebook profile confirmed his death: “It is with great sorrow we announce the passing of Ed King who died at his home in Nashville, Tennessee on August 22nd, 2018. We thank his many friends and fans for their love and support of Ed during his life and career.”
Gary Rossington, a founding and current member of the band, grieved King's loss on social media Thursday.
"I’ve just found out about Ed’s passing and I’m shocked and saddened. 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 & Roll Heaven. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sharon and his family," Rossington tweeted from the band's official Twitter account.
I’ve just found out about Ed’s passing and I’m shocked and saddened. 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 & Roll Heaven. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sharon and his family. -Gary Rossington— Lynyrd Skynyrd (@Skynyrd) August 23, 2018
Although King played guitar for Lynyrd Skynyrd from 1972 to 1975 and again from 1987 to 1996, giving the band its famous three-guitar sound, he also was one of the founding members of the psychedelic band Strawberry Alarm Clock, formed in Los Angeles in the mid-1960s (best known for their hit "Incense and Peppermints").
King played on the band's first three albums: 1973's (Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd), 1974's Second Helping and 1975's Nuthun' Fancy. His voice can be heard uttering the iconic count-off "1, 2, 3" in "Sweet Home Alabama," off of Second Helping.
He was not with the band in 1977 when Ronnie Van Zant and other members were killed in a plane crash.
His 1975 exit, which had to do with a dust-up with Van Zant, who had a knack for fighting, was detailed in the new documentary If I Leave Here Tomorrow: A Film About Lynyrd Skynyrd.
“I’m the hippie from Southern California. I’m not digging the violence part,” King said in the film, recounting how a broken string at a show in Pittsburgh unhinged Van Zant. “Ronnie 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.”
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006 along with all of the other former members of the iconic band.