Robert Burns Jr was not wearing a seatbelt when he hit a tree and mailbox. Photo from Wikipedia.
Robert Burns Jr was not wearing a seatbelt when he hit a tree and mailbox. Photo from Wikipedia.

Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer dies in car crash aged 64

FORMER Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Robert Burns Jr has died in a car crash in Georgia aged 64.

The Southern hard rock band's founding member was killed shortly before midnight on Friday when his vehicle left the road at a bend and collided with a mailbox and a tree.

No other vehicles were involved and Burns was alone in the car. He was not wearing a seatbelt.

Georgia State Patrol spokesman James Tallent has confirmed that the accident is under investigation and as such there are no further details at this time.

Burns formed Lynyrd Skynyrd in Jacksonville, Florida with Ronnie Van Zant, Larry Junstrom, Gary Rossington and Allen Collins. He played on the band's first two albums and was with them when hits "Sweet Home Alabama", "Gimme Three Steps" and "Free Bird" were recorded.

Burns left the group in 1974 after becoming "exhausted by touring" but continued to perform for fun across the US. He was replaced by Artimus Pyle before Lynyrd Skynyrd disbanded after the 1977 plane crash that killed three band members including singer Van Zant.

Burns' father, Robert Burns Sr, told Fox News that his son "had the manners that would suit the King of England" and praised him for being a "very soft-spoken and extremely well-mannered person to come out of that kind of industry".

Rossington, who helped reform Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1987 with Van Zant's brother Johnny on vocals, has posted a tribute message to Burns on his Facebook page.

"Well, today I'm at a loss for words, but I just remember Bob being a funny guy," he wrote. "He used to do skits for us and make us laugh all the time, he was hilarious!

"Ironically, since we played Jacksonville yesterday, Dale, my daughter, and I went by the cemetery to see some of the guys in the band and my parents' grave sites.

"On the way back we went by Bob Burns' old house. It was there in the carport where we used to first start to practice with Skynyrd.

"My heart goes out to his family and God bless him and them in this sad time. He was a great, great drummer."