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Author: Subject: Ed King/Lynyrd Skynyrd on Touring

Zen Peach

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  posted on 3/21/2019 at 09:36 PM
Some cool stories here:

Q - I remember in 93 when you, Gary, and Johnny toured around doing acoustic sets. What are some of your fun memories or stories about the ACOUSTIC period?

That week long acoustic tour was a real hoot. I got high off of all the second-hand smoke. I remember by the time we got to Dallas, we were buzzed pretty good. RedBeard, the DJ there, asked me a question that had the word "spawned" in it. That word just really struck me funny...I just laughed like crazy. Never did answer his question.

That next week I had to take a drug test for some insurance policy...and FAILED IT! It was ALL SECOND-HAND SMOKE, I tell you. Every bit of it.

I had two custom-made guitars by John Suhr, powered by EMG pickups. I plugged them straight into a Peavey Mace Amp with 4-12" speakers. No effects. Those guitars never failed me. I sold one (the guitar I used on "Free bird" every night) to Judy (Van Zant) for display at her cafe on Jax Beach - the other I'll keep til my dying day.

Q - Which songs were the hardest to play live?

I know that the band did "Simple Man" during the "Live at the Fox" recordings (and released it later), but during my time in the band, we only played that tune ONE TIME. And that was in some basement night club outside of San Francisco. Ronnie just couldn't hit that high note in the chorus (when we recorded it, we'd tuned DOWN a half-step so he could come close!). I recall, that same night, we also did "Curtis Lowe" - the ONLY time we ever did it during a show.

In '75 we tried doing some of the tunes off of Nuthin' Fancy - "Made In The Shade" & "Railroad Song" just didn't cut it on stage (we really missed Jimmy Hall's harp on "Railroad").

Other than that, why would ANY of our tunes be difficult to play?! Ronnie only liked to play ONE HOUR sets, so we mainly chose the tunes that worked the easiest.

Q - I was wondering if you could recall how long in advance the band was told they'd be opening for THE WHO and how much time you guys had to rehearse before the tour which I'm sure practice time was relentless?

We had less than 48 hours notice. NO kidding. I think we'd heard the week before that Skynyrd being on the Quadrophenia Tour was a longshot...Townshend didn't want an opening act. Then he (or someone well connected) had a change of heart. Of course, we didn't have to rehearse especially for that tour. We were always prepared to play. DON'T BE SILLY!

Q - I remember reading somewhere that Skynyrd played a five song set at the opening night of The Who tour at the Cow Place. What five songs did you play? Did the set list vary at all on that tour? Tell us about touring with The Who.

The night before The Who began a tour of North America, we were told to pack our bags...we were the opening act. That first night at the Cow Palace in San Francisco we discovered that we only had EIGHT INPUTS into the master sound board - and only 30 minutes to play. We made the best of it.

Our set list I can't exactly recall. But it may have been I AINT THE ONE, WORKIN FOR MCA, GIMME 3 STEPS, THE BREEZE & FREEBIRD. Well received wherever we went.

When The Who came out, Keith Moon passed out cold about 15 minutes into their set. They carried Moon off stage and announced that they’d resume shortly. When they came back 20 minutes later, Moon promptly passed out again. This time Pete Townsend went to the microphone and asked “Is there a drummer in the house?” A young kid jumped up on the stage and he was escorted to Moon’s drum kit. He put on a set of headphones and the band kicked into “Baba O’Reilly”. The kid knew the song note-for-note. It was amazing.

We had a few other memorable experiences from that tour...notably, the time when our plane had to return to the gate because Keith Moon had mentioned something to the stewardess about going to Cuba! Also, this marks the first time any of us had actually seen a female blow-up doll. Moon deposited one on the luggage merry-go-round. Those dolls are common-place now, but back then?

Q - Most bands today use earplugs when they perform they didn't seem as visible during the 60s & 70s. I wondered if you used them on stage during those times or suffered any hearing loss because of it? Especially with The Who shows, which I think is in the Guinness Book for loudest tour (Quadrophenia).

Townshend will tell you that his hearing loss is due to his mis-use of HEADPHONES, NOT concert volume. The main victims of concert volume are those in FRONT of the stacks of speakers.

Nowadays you can get earplugs that attenuate the stage volume to any degree you can stand. I've never used those. In the past, I'd use earplugs on stage as I felt the monitors were increasing in volume as the show progressed. FREE BIRD is the main culprit when it comes to "buzzing in the ears" after the show.

I never had any hearing loss. My hearing is so good these days that I can pick up the tiniest annoying frequency. Once in a restaurant a few yers ago, this ice machine gave off an almost inaudible (except to me) high pitched noise. No one else could hear it. I couldn't eat there!!

Q - Did you and Ronnie Play poker and who won the most?

Never played cards with Ronnie. I did play a game with Rossington & 5 others one night in San Antonio. I warned him not to raise me...I'd filled my inside straight...I won $504 on that hand. But Rossington's a pretty cagey card player.

In Ann Arbor, Michigan, Ronnie and my guitar tech, John Butler, were arrested for fighting with hotel guests and hitting a cop down at the hotel bar. We had to travel to the next gig without them and they finally showed up 10 minutes before show time. Those were rather tense days!

Q - I was wondering how you were able to take care of personal things while on the road, both at home and while traveling, such as:

- Bills piling up at home.
- How did your laundry get done?
- What if you needed new shoes or BVDs?
- Did you have to eat out everywhere?
- What if you got hungry or thirsty? Were there snacks?
- How did you get around once you got somewhere, rental cars etc?

Let's see if I can answer this...

1) Had someone take care of it.
2) Had someone else take care of that.
3) Had somebody go out to get it & bring it back.
4) Had someone get some food 'to go'.
6) See item #1.

Q - this begs the question, who would do all these things? Was it one person or several? Is there a title like 'official gopher'? Did you have to send money or could you run a tab?

In the old days (!), it was Dean Kilpatrick's job. And he did it with style and with a smile. Dean was a prince...a true one-of-a-kind permanent fixture. One of the band, actually.

Q - Were you with the band when Skynyrd went to Graceland?

I was there. Elvis wasn't. I believe it was Vernon who showed us around the place. Quite memorable.

I stopped by there a few years ago...told them that Ed King, writer of "Sweet Home Alabama", wanted to take a walk-through. They told me to get my butt in line like everyone else. Harumph.

One time in '74, we stayed at the same hotel as Elvis' band. I stuck a note under James Burton's door. He never responded. Now I've got a signed photo from him that says "To Ed, my friend and pal." I wish people wouldn't write that...I hardly KNOW THE GUY.

Q - I recently saw footage of Skynyrd in Winterland 75, but i noticed that BP wasn't playing piano.

A couple of days before that show, BP shoved his arm thru a glass door at a bar in San Diego. Got cut up pretty bad and missed a couple of shows.

Q - During the 70s era, if one of you happened to blow the lead to a song, was it not uncommon to have RVZ throw a punch over it?

Nobody got slammed for making a mistake...but lose your place in a song and there may be some repercussions after the show. Ronnie wasn't always certain where to come in and start singing, so this is the only kind of mental lapse that would've made him look bad. Unforgivable!

Q - How did you guys stay in tune back in the old days?

We hired a guy to re-string and tune our guitars...and he used one of those CONN STROBO TUNERS. They're about the size of a PIGNOSE amp. Very reliable.

Believe it or not, I can't recall too many tuning problems in those days, though I was always struggling with my Stratocaster and that stupid vibrato system. But I was able to work it out by using two Strats.

Did Johnny's constant chatter on stage every night ever get to you?

My favorite review was from a paper in Tampa. The critic said "Johnny doesn't have his older brother's gift of banter. Most of what he says goes over everyone's heads and the rest of it doesn't matter anyway." I couldn't WAIT to read him that. SPOT-ON. I mean, just shut up and sing. If you can.

After that Tampa show, we had a HUGE discussion on the bus that lasted for DAYS. Finally, Johnny agreed that, for ONE night, he'd keep quiet. It was at the Universal Amphitheater in Hollywood, Calif. The ONLY words he could utter (we all agreed) were "Bring all my mules out..." and "What song is it you wanna hear". That's ALL! Nothing more.

It was magical. The 'mystical' power of the music and that 'silent aura' returned. Everybody had to admit, this was FAR better. It didn't last but that one show.

Ronnie never did anything to interfere or distract. He was very aware of the power of the band and didn't feel that 'something was missing' when he wasn't singing.

There's no way I can sit through one more set listening to Johnny walk through those songs like he's reading a menu. I can deal with just about anything else. Thankfully, I won't have to!

Q - Broke out the tribute tour video tonight and was wondering why you weren't playing on the softball team? Not to say you weren't a great manager, but I would have liked to see you put a couple over the fence!

I can't hit! My role was to kick dirt on the umpire. One of the few things I can do well.

Q - I was wondering what were the travel conditions like before you're departure and during the reunion? I remember watching the Tribute video and seeing Gary and Dale in there own tour bus and the others in a Greyhound style bus? What was the reasoning?

I always a had a nice, comfortable bunk on a tour bus. Except the last two years where I had my own bus and never stayed in a hotel. Lived pretty much like the road crew lived...showered and ate at the venue just like regular folks. Except for the satellite TV* on my bus (wow, Rossington hated that), it was just like old times!

What Rossington DIDN'T know was that my bus LEAKED .... and leaked BAD. I had all of these large plastic sheets that I had rigged up in the interior...they were taped together to form a large FUNNEL that steered the water leaks into the shower stall! And while riding through Texas and New Mexico in mid-Summer, the A/C quit. WAS just like OLD TIMES.

* it rarely worked but it really put on a good show.

Q - Did you ever sing background/back up vocals?

Leon and I always sang back up on several tunes. ALABAMA, SWAMP MUSIC, THE BREEZE, 3 STEPS, WORKIN FOR MCA.

If I could sing, I'd be dangerous.

Q - We've all read the stories about the big "bash" for "Sounds of the South"/Al Kooper. Was that gig everything it has been made out to be? Did it really blow away the the execs when you did MCA like the stories say? That had to be one of the most significant gigs you ever played. I'd like to hear about it.

It's funny how there always seems to be that ONE IMPORTANT gig. The showcase at Richard's in Atlanta for the MCA execs was the one. We opened with WORKIN FOR MCA (Ronnie's idea) and had their rapt attention forever that night. Being into the music and 'at work' that evening, I don't recall too much more about it. I had no idea a showcase of that kind could move so many like it did.

Though I didn't get Gaines' parts 100%, I SPENT MANY HOURS TRYING. I wouldn't think of playing a Collins part by improvising it. Yeah, I took liberties with Freebird ... but not until it had gone on FOR 5 MINUTES!!

I'm watching McCartney on TV tonight, and he's talking about the Beatles playing at Shea Stadium, and not being able to hear themselves play from a combination of the screaming girls, and non-existent monitor system. I know sound technology had advanced by the time of your early Skynyrd days, but I was wondering if despite that, did you ever experience bad on-stage sound, and if so, how the heck does the band keep it together if they can't hear themselves?

Joe Barnes - "Sound on stage was the best in the house."

Ed - Sure was! As much as I miss the '50's, I don't miss the sound systems. (A 20-watt Bogen amp with a couple of Shure columns....if you were lucky.)


"And we're like, the world is gonna end in 12 years if we don't address climate change" - Congresswoman Box of rocks



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  posted on 3/21/2019 at 10:32 PM
Wow! Excellent stuff! I have always liked Ed King and just always found his story to be an extremely interesting one, how could You not?!..............Peace.........joe

Peach Extraordinaire

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  posted on 3/22/2019 at 10:29 AM
Ed added that great strat pickin' sound that cut through the Gibsons in their music, much like Steve Gaines did after him.

I'm on an Ed King Legacy facebook page and enjoy reminiscing about his first stint in the band and the 1987-1988 Tribute tour. Couple thoughts:

- I'm amazed at how crisp of a player he was in 1987 after not having been in a band since 1975 when he left Skynyrd. He came back crushing it including playing the most difficult Gaines parts. And he could still rip on guitar for the sporadic gigs he did after leaving Skynyrd too. I suspect he practiced a lot.

- I appreciate how he was willing to play those Gaines parts and the songs from Street Survivors and taking the Allen Collins Freebird solo. I think he stepped up to the most difficult parts in 1987-1988.

- He really added some credibility to the Tribute tour by joining on with the group. It wouldn't have seemed as legit without all 5 of them.

He was a great interview and very accessible to fans. Seemed like a regular guy.


Tim L.


Extreme Peach

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  posted on 3/22/2019 at 10:46 AM
Very excellent thread

I have a friend that has a strong opinion that Rossington was the least talented guitar player among Collins, Gaines, King & himself. He is a huge Skynard fan and a pretty decent guitar player.

Curious if any guitar players and/or big Skynard fans have an opinion on this subject.

Thanks for posting this.


Peach Extraordinaire

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  posted on 3/22/2019 at 11:34 AM
Nothing wrong with being the least among those 4. They all contributed great riffs and music that Ronnie was able to write memorable vocal melodies & lyrics over top.


Tim L.


Zen Peach

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  posted on 3/23/2019 at 08:36 AM
great piece

I saw an interview or something where Gary was asked about issues with Ed and he stated "he wouldn't share his drugs"




Peach Master

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  posted on 3/23/2019 at 10:01 PM
I seen them open with an acoustic set in 94. They are all great players and Ed deserves alot of credit.


hope for the best


Peach Pro

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  posted on 3/24/2019 at 04:15 AM
I loved reading that interview.... Ed was a great guitarist and sounded like a great guy.

Regarding the comment that Gary was the least talented of the big four in Skynyrd.... I don't agree with it, all four had their own styles of playing and they were all great.... I think Gary's style is a bit more laid back than the other three but still an amazing guitarist that I'm happy to have seen play.

I seen him last weekend and it took him a bit to get going but when he did it brought a smile to my face!

Question to longtime Skynyrd fans.... is the younger guitarist playing the King/Gaines parts and Rickie playing the Collins parts?


Eat a peach for peace........


Extreme Peach

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  posted on 3/25/2019 at 09:32 PM
Thanks for feedback & opinions.

I should have been a bit more clear that my buddy likes King, Collins, Gaines and Rossington. It's just his opinion that Rossington was the least impactful/talented between the four.


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