Longtime Lynyrd Skynyrd pianist Billy Powell passed away Tuesday night. Born in Corpus Christi, Texas, Powell’s time with Lynyrd Skynyrd began when the band hired him as a roadie in the early 1970’s. Powell became the official keyboardist for the band in 1972. After setting up the band’s equipment to perform at a high school prom, Powell sat down at a piano in the corner of the room and performed his own version of “Free Bird.” Lead singer Ronnie Van Zant was so impressed that he invited Powell to join the band on the spot.
At this time, the cause of death has yet to be confirmed. The band has postponed the January 30 show in Kinder, La, and January 31 in Biloxi, Miss. New dates for these appearances have not yet been announced.