Honoring Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Allen Collins With His Greatest Solo EVER
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Allen Collins | July 19, 1952 – January 23, 1990
On this day, just 26 years ago we lost Lynyrd Skynyrd member and talented guitarist Allen Collins to an unfortunate case of pneumonia in 1990.
Although Allen was blessed with talent and opportunity, the lost rock star and guitar legend suffered along the way with personal devastations that many fans may not be aware of.
Larkin Allen Collins Jr. showed interest and promise in the guitar from the young age of 12 with stepmother Leila, a country guitarist, and father Larkin handing him over his first guitar and amp well before high school. With the passion and dedication coursing through his veins, it is no wonder that Allen joined Lynyrd Skynyrd, at the time, My Backyard, just two weeks after Ronnie and Gary assembled with drummer Bob Burns and bassist Larry Junstrom.
Marrying young love Kathy in 1970, just 6 years into the struggling band’s timeline, the couple raised two loving daughters, Amie and Allison.
From the Who’s Quadrophenia tour, where Skynyrd hit their big break and made a name for themselves, until the crash heard ’round the world, Collins remained a steady and indispensable piece of the southern rock legacy. Suffering from two broken vertebrae and a mutilated arm, Collins managed to escape the grip of the burning plane but the physical toil that took over Collins’ life almost resulted in an amputation of his severed arm.
Following the loss of Ronnie and Steve, Allen and fellow guitarist Gary Rossington joined together to form The Rossington- Collins Band in the 80’s. The two released two successful albums and racked up the charts with singles like “Don’t Misunderstand Me,” but unfortunately for Allen, he lost his wife due to a brain hemorrhage just at the beginning of their debut tour.
Coping with the abrupt loss of Kathy, Allen cancelled the tour and disbanded The Rossington- Collins Band just two years after its start; this was difficult for both Gary and Allen to accept. Still wanting to pursue music however, Allen formed the Allen Collins Band in 1983 and released only album Here, There & Back with Skynyrd members Billy and Leon.
Going through several changes within the Allen Collins Band like member adjustments and being dropped by MCA records, eventually he decided to return to his roots and resurrect Lynyrd Skynyrd from the ashes in 1984. Appointing Johnny Van Zant as lead singer, Allen brought back Lynyrd Skynyrd founders and brought Lynyrd Skynyrd II to life.
Just two years after the band’s rekindling, Allen and his girlfriend at the time, Debra Jean Watts, got into a horrific car accident that left Collins paralyzed from the waist down, while taking her life. Allen pled no contest to vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence and spent the rest of his life preaching of the dangers of drinking and driving. After starting the Roll For Rock Wheelchair Events and Benefit Concerts in 1988, his life was taken two years later as a result of chronic pneumonia on January 23, 1990.
As one of the band’s guitarists, Allen’s greatest contribution to the band, as it is still known, is his “Free Bird” solo that could never be touched. Allen was a valued member of Lynyrd Skynyrd and will remain that way until the end of time, we love and miss you Allen…
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