GenresSouthern rockNameAllen CollinsYears active1964–1986InstrumentsGuitarRoleGuitarist

The final flight of a freebird the last of allen collins

Larkin Allen Collins Jr.

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(July 19, 1952 – January 23, 1990) was one of the establishing members and guitarists of southerly rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, and co-wrote numerous of the band"s songs with late frontman Ronnie van Zant. He was born in Jacksonville, Florida.



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Personal life


Collins started playing guitar at 12 years old, through a couple of lessons native his stepmother, Leila Collins, a country and also western guitarist, teaching him a couple of notes, and receiving his very first guitar and also amplifier indigenous his father after a falling-out in between the two. Collins additionally attended Nathan B. Forrest High School. In 1970, Collins married Kathy Johns. All of his bandmates to be in his wedding party, yet Kathy worried the the band"s lengthy haired appearance would certainly disturb her parents. To resolve this problem, she compelled all the band members to store their hair under wigs at the wedding ceremony. The wedding agree was among the first public performances of "Free Bird" complete with the trademark expanded guitar jam in ~ the end. Collins"s family members grew through the birth of his daughter Amie, followed quickly by Allison.

Musical career


Allen Collins join Skynyrd in Jacksonville, Florida simply two weeks ~ Ronnie van Zant and Gary Rossington, in addition to Bob Burns and Larry Junstrom. Collins and also lead singer Ronnie valve Zant co-wrote plenty of of the biggest Skynyrd hits, including "Free Bird", "Gimme three Steps", and "That Smell". The band received national success start in 1973 while opening for The that on your Quadrophenia tour. Top top October 20, 1977, the Skynyrd plane crashed right into a forest in Mississippi killing 3 band members, consisting of Van Zant. Collins to be seriously injured in the crash, experiencing two broken vertebrae in his neck and severe damages to his right arm. If amputation to be recommended, Collins" father refused and also he eventually recovered.


During the early on 1980s, Collins ongoing to carry out on phase in The Rossington-Collins band which appreciated modest success, releasing 2 albums (Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere, and This Is the Way), and charting a couple of singles (notably "Don"t Misunderstand Me"). Tragedy win again simply as the Rossington Collins band was getting off the ground. In 1980, during the very first days of the debut concert tour, Collins"s wife, Kathy, suddenly died of a hemorrhage throughout the heritage of their 3rd child. This forced the tour"s cancellation. V the lingering impacts of shedding his girlfriend in the plane crash, Kathy"s fatality devastated Collins. The Rossington-Collins tape disbanded in 1982. Collins ongoing to seek music, beginning the Allen Collins Band, which released one album, Here, there & back in 1983. The six members were Skynyrd keyboardist Billy Powell and also bassist Leon Wilkeson, along with lead singer Jimmy Dougherty, drummer Derek Hess, and guitarists Barry Lee Harwood and Randall Hall. In 1984, Collins tried come resurrect the band, hiring Jacksonville guitarist Mike Owings and bassist Andy Ward King. Later on members contained guitarist-vocalist Michael ray FitzGerald and bassist "Filthy Phil" Price. However, Collins crashed his vehicle into a ditch, death his girlfriend and also paralyzing himself.


In 1987 Collins and his manager-father determined to revolutionary Lynyrd Skynyrd and began recruiting previous Lynyrd Skynyrd members.

Accident, band reunions and also death


On January 29, 1986, Collins was connected in a car accident, explain the life the his girlfriend, Debra Jean Watts, and also leaving the guitarist paralyzed indigenous the waist down, with minimal use the his arms and hands. Collins pleaded no challenge to automotive manslaughter and driving under the affect of alcohol. He would never play guitar on-stage again.

Collins" last performance v Lynyrd Skynyrd was at the band"s very an initial reunion (after the aircraft crash) in ~ the 1979 Volunteer Jam V in Nashville, Tennessee. All remaining members of Lynyrd Skynyrd reunited officially in 1987, however due to his injury, Collins only served together musical director. As component of his plea bargain for the 1986 accident, Collins addressed pan at every Skynyrd concert v an explanation the why he could not perform, citing the dangers of drinking and driving, and also drugs and also alcohol. Also because that Collins" accident, the band donated a sizable lot of concert proceeds indigenous the 1987–88 tour to the Miami Project, which is involved in therapy of paralysis. Collins founded Roll for Rock Wheelchair Events and Benefit concert in 1988 to raise awareness and to administer opportunities because that those living through spinal cord injury and other physics challenges.

Allen Collins died on January 23, 1990 from chronic pneumonia, a complication of the paralysis; he is hidden beside his mam in Jacksonville, Florida.

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For many of his tenure in Skynyrd, Collins used a Gibson Firebird etc fitted with a chrome, dog-eared P-90 pickup in the bridge position and a Gibson "teaspoon" nickel vibrato arm. In 1976 the switched to a natural-finished korina 1958 Gibson traveler that the bought for roughly $3,000 and also would use that all the way through his tenure with the Allen Collins Band. Starting in so late 1977, he would also use a Gibson Les Paul Jr. Occasionally. And also on "Gimme earlier My Bullets", "Sweet residence Alabama", "Every mothers Son" and many various other songs, he offered a Sunburst Fender Stratocaster after Ed King left. Collins has actually been filmed playing an all-black, rosewood fingerboard Stratocaster v white single-coil pickups and also white manage knobs. In 2003, Gibson Guitars honored Allen through a minimal edition Explorer. The etc is made of afri limba hardwood (Korina) and also features an age finished, Maestro vibrola, and also classic humbucking pickups.