Ed King was the lead guitarist for the Southern rock band, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the co-writer of their best hit “Sweet Home Alabama” and another of the band’s hits, “Saturday Night Special.”

King passed away at his Nashville, Tennessee home on Wednesday, 22nd of August 2018, at the age of 68. No official cause of death has been released, but he had apparently been battling with lung cancer and had recently been in the hospital.

King's death was announced in a statement posted to the group’s Facebook page to say he had died on Wednesday. One of the band’s founding members, Gary Rossington also wrote on the Lynyrd Skynyrd Twitter page that he was “shocked and saddened” by their loss.

Tributes to Ed King

Rossington wrote that King was their brother, a great songwriter, and guitarist. Rossington said he knows King will be reunited with the rest of the boys up in Rock and Roll heaven. He went on to send their thoughts and prayers to Sharon and King’s family.

Many musicians posted tributes to the guitarist, including country music singer Charlie Daniels, who told him to rest in peace and that he had left behind some great riffs.

Lead guitarist with the band Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Randy Bachman, said Ed had written the anthem of the south with the song “Sweet Home Alabama, going on to say he was a talented guitarist.

King was also the co-writer on the band’s hits “Swamp Music” and “Poison Whisky.”

Lynyrd Skynyrd history

As reported by The Guardian, Ed King was a native of California and was the founder of Strawberry Alarm Clock, an acid rock band.

He joined Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1972, and with two other guitarists helped to create their iconic triple-guitar sound with classics like “Saturday Night Special” and “Free Bird.”

Ed left the band in 1975 and two years later, guitarist Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines, and singer Ronnie Van Zant were killed in a plane crash in 1977.

This led to King rejoining the band in 1987 and he stayed with Lynyrd Skynyrd until 1996 when he retired due to heart problems.

When interviewed with Gary James, Ed recalled writing the song “Sweet Home Alabama” with Van Zant. King said they wrote the song in half an hour, but that it took them around half a day to put the final song together, adding that it came really quick. He said writing anything with Van Zant was “pretty easy.”

Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Ed King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, along with the rest of the band.