Billy Powell, a keyboardist with Lynyrd Skynyrd for 22 years, died Wednesday morning. Powell passed away at his home in Orange Park, Florida, local newspapers report.
Powell had called 911 overnight and said he was having trouble breathing. He was apparently supposed to see a heart specialist earlier this week. Billy Powell was 56 years old.
Powell joined Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1972 following a stint as one of the band’s roadies. He was on the plane that crashed in 1977, taking the lives of singer Ronnie Van Zant and seven other people. Powell was seriously hurt in the accident.
Billy Powell joined Lynyrd Skynyrd after Johnny Van Zant heard him play an introduction to “Free Bird” during a rehearsal time. He had performed with the group as recently as this month, when the remaining members went on a four-day cruise. A new album and three-state tour was in the works but will now be cancelled.
Powell was one of only two Lynyrd Skynyrd members in the band since the plane crash. He was married with four children.
Billy Powell Video
The following video shows Billy Powell performing with Lynyrd Skynyrd in 2007: