It seems like the members of legendary southern-rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd have always had trouble staying alive. Now the band's longtime vocalist is in hospital due to serious complications from a previous surgery.
According to the group's website, 51-year-old singer Johnny Van Zant--who replaced his older brother Ronnie in the band ten years after the 1977 plane crash that killed him and several others, including guitarist Steve Gaines--is currently recovering in a hospital in Minneapolis.
"Johnny Van Zant was admitted to the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, MN on August 6, with a surgical site infected cellulitis which required hospitalization with IV antibiotic treatment. Van Zant has a severe Staph infection and multiple symptoms related to infection. Johnny Van Zant is to remain out of work and recover until cleared by his primary physician."
Van Zant's illness has caused the band to cancel or postpone six shows on its current tour with the Doobie Brothers.
Guitarist Gary Rossington is the only original Skynyrd member still breathing--unless you count fellow guitarist and former Blackfoot leader Rickey Medlocke, who played drums in the early '70s, before the band's debut album was released. Original band members who survived the 1977 crash but died later include guitarist Allen Collins (1952-1990), bassist Leon Wilkeson (1952-2001), and keyboardist Billy Powell (1952-2009).
Latter-day Skynyrd members who have passed away before their time include former Outlaws guitarist Hughie Thomasson, who died in his sleep in 2007 at the age of 55. Ean Eans, who replaced Wilkeson on bass in 2001, died of cancer in 2009 at 48.
Just last year the man who inspired the band's name, Leonard Skinner, died at the age of 77. The New York Times called him "arguably the most influential high school gym teacher in American popular culture."
The ravages of time have not been kind to Skynyrd, music-wise. In my opinion its latest album, God & Guns, stinks. But let's not dwell on that. Here's a reminder of how great the band used to be just before the crash. Stand on it, Steve!
You can follow Steve Newton on Twitter at twitter.com/earofnewt.