• Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
Bob Burns

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

Former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Bob Burns, a founding band member, was killed in a car crash in Georgia late on Friday. He was 64.

A police spokesperson told E! News on Saturday that the accident occurred just before midnight. According to preliminary findings, he was driving alone in a vehicle in Cartersville, a small, rural town, and left the road while approaching a right curve, after which he struck a mailbox and a tree. Burns was not wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash, the spokesperson said, adding that he was also alone in the car.

Burns played drums on the group's first demos and on their most famous song, "Sweet Home Alabama," as well as on other hits such as "Free Bird" and "Simple Man." The last surviving original members of Lynyrd Skynyrd are Larry Junstrom and guitarist Gary Rossington, the latter of whom still remains in the band.

"Well, today I'm at a loss for words, but I just remember Bob being a funny guy," Rossington said in a message posted on the group's Facebook page. "He was just so funny, he used to do skits for us and make us laugh all the time, he was hilarious!"

Born Robert Louis Jones Jr., the musician performed with Rossington, frontman Ronnie Van Zant, Junstrom and guitarist Allen Collins in Noble Five and One Percent before the band changed their name to Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rolling Stone said. The group is named after a gym teacher the founding musicians had at a school in Jacksonville, Florida. Leonard Skinner died in 2010.

Burns left the group in the mid '70s and was replaced by drummer Artimus Pyle. The band's line-ups have changed over the years and Lynyrd Skynyrd, led by frontman and Ronnie's brother Johnny Van Zant, still tours. They head to Europe later this month. In 2006, Burns joined the group on stage when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

"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," Rossington said in his post. "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."

Collins died at age 37 in 1990. Ronnie (who uttered the famous "Turn it up!" lyric in "Sweet Home Alabama") died in a charter plane crash in Mississippi in 1977, along with siblings Steve Gaines, a Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist and vocalist, and Cassie Gaines, a backup singer. Pyle survived the crash. He later formed the Artimus Pyle Band. Burns joined the group at the 2013 Rock Legends Cruise.

The Ringo Starr of Southern Rock, Mr Bob Burns. Rest easy, brother. We will miss you! ??

A photo posted by Artimus Pyle Band (@artimuspyleband) on

"Bob was one of the kindest, sweetest men you would ever want to know and a rock solid drummer," read a post on the Artimus Pyle Band's Facebook page. "Artimus calls him the Ringo Star of Southern rock. We were honored to have shared the stage with Bob and were looking forward to many more shows down the road. Bob we love you and will surely miss you! Prayers for his daughters Lou and Kristen. RIP old friend."

—Reporting by Holly Passalaqua