The famous plane crash that took three of his bandmates in 1977 wasn't enough to kill Billy Powell but, sadly, the Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboardist passed away in his home in the suburbs of Jacksonville, FL, early Wednesday morning. He was 56 years old.
According to local newspaper the Florida-Times Union, Powell called 911 himself, but following CPR from rescue workers, was pronounced dead at 1:52 AM.
Powell took music lessons while attending military boarding school in Florida, and majored in music theory in college, but his true rock 'n' roll education began when he became a roadie for Lynyrd Skynyrd. In 1972, he graduated when he accepted the position of the band's keyboardist. Quite simply, they heard him play and hired him on the spot.Four years later, Powell survived the plane crash that killed three of his bandmates and their manager. At the time, it was the end of the line for Lynyrd Skynyrd, but Powell persevered, continuing to play music in various other bands including the Rossington-Collins Band (featuring fellow Skynyrd alum), his own band Alias and Christian rockers Vision.