Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Ed King dies at 68

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      It's a sad day for fans of old-school southern rock, as Ed King--the guitarist who played on Lynyrd Skynyrd's first three albums, and cowrote the hit "Sweet Home Alabama"--has passed away at the age of 68.

      King's death was announced on his Facebook page:

      "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."

      The cause of death was not given, but King had been suffering from--and was recently hospitalized for--lung cancer.

      Original Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington released a statement today, in the wake of King's passing.

      "I’ve just found out about Ed’s passing and I’m shocked and saddened," he said. "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 joined the band in 1972 and played on its first three albums--Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd (1973), Second Helping (1974), and Nuthin' Fancy (1975)--before rejoining in 1987 with the surviving members of the infamous 1977 plane crash that killed original singer Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Steve Gaines, as well as Gaines's backing-vocalist sister Cassie, assisant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary, and co-pilot William Gray.

      While best known for cowriting and playing the catchy riff on "Sweet Home Alabama", he also cowrote such deathless Skynyrd classics as "Poison Whiskey", "Workin' for MCA", "Swamp Music", and the particularly outstanding anti-handgun opus, "Saturday Night Special".