Today we are remembering Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Allen Collins who passed away 28 years…
Written by megarock on January 23, 2018
Today we are remembering Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Allen Collins who passed away 28 years ago on this date.
Allen joined Skynyrd in Jacksonville, Florida just two weeks after Ronnie Van Zant and Gary Rossington, along with Bob Burns and Larry Junstrom. Allen and lead singer Ronnie Van Zant co-wrote many of the biggest Skynyrd hits, including “Free Bird”, “Gimme Three Steps”, and “That Smell”. On October 20, 1977, when the Skynyrd plane crashed into a forest in Mississippi, Collins was seriously injured, suffering two broken vertebrae in his neck and severe damage to his right arm. While amputation was recommended, Collins’ father refused and Allen eventually recovered.
In 1986, Collins was involved in a car accident, claiming the life of his girlfriend and leaving the guitarist paralyzed from the waist down, with limited use of his arms and hands. Collins pled no contest to vehicular manslaughter as well as driving under the influence of alcohol. He would never play guitar on-stage again.
Collins’ last performance with Lynyrd Skynyrd was at the band’s very first reunion (after the plane crash) at the 1979 Volunteer Jam V in Nashville, Tennessee. All remaining members of Lynyrd Skynyrd reunited officially in 1987, but due to his injury, Collins only served as musical director. As part of his plea bargain for the 1986 accident, Collins addressed fans at every Skynyrd concert with an explanation of why he could not perform, citing the dangers of drinking and driving, as well as drugs and alcohol. Also because of Collins’ accident, the band donated a sizable amount of concert proceeds from the 1987–88 tour to the Miami Project, which is involved in treatment of paralysis. Collins founded Roll For Rock Wheelchair Events and Benefit Concerts in 1988 to raise awareness and to provide opportunities for those living with spinal cord injury and other physical challenges.
Allen died on January 23, 1990 from chronic pneumonia, a complication of the paralysis. He was 37 years old.
RIP Allen. You too are as free as a bird now.