Allen Collins

Allen Collins

Infobox musical artist
Name = Allen Collins

Img_capt =
Img_size =
Landscape =
Background = non_vocal_instrumentalist
Birth_name = Larkin Allen Collins, Jr.
Alias =
Born = birth date|1952|07|19
Jacksonville, Florida, USA
Died = death date and age|1990|1|23|1952|7|19
Jacksonville, Florida, USA
Instrument = Guitar
Genre = Southern rock
Occupation = Musician, Songwriter
Years_active = 1964 – 1990
Label =
Associated_acts = Lynyrd Skynyrd
The Rossington-Collins Band
The Allen Collins Band
Notable_instruments = Gibson Firebird
Gibson Explorer

Larkin Allen Collins, Jr. (July 19, 1952January 23, 1990) was one of the founding members and guitarists of Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. His unique guitar playing and songwriting skills were vital to the success of the band during his time with them. He was born in Jacksonville, Florida.

Musical career

Allen Collins joined what would become one of the most memorable rock bands from the South just two weeks after Ronnie Van Zant and Gary Rossington, along with Bob Burns and Larry Junstrom. So came the birth of Lynyrd Skynyrd in the summer of 1964. Allen Collins and lead singer Van Zant co-wrote some of the biggest Skynyrd hits: "Free Bird", "Gimme Three Steps", and "That Smell", just to name a few. The band received national success beginning in 1973. At the height of success the Lynyrd Skynyrd dream was shattered with the infamous 1977 plane crash that killed three band members. Collins was seriously injured in the crash that killed lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and Steve's sister and back-up vocalist Cassie Gaines, also a member of The Honkettes. His right arm was so severely damaged that doctors recommended amputation. Collins' father, however, refused, and stopped the amputation process. Collins would eventually play the guitar again.

During the early 1980s, Collins continued to perform in The Rossington-Collins Band and the Allen Collins Band. Rossington-Collins enjoyed modest success, charting a few singles, notably "Don't Misunderstand Me," before tragedy would strike again. In 1981, Collins' wife Kathy suddenly died of a hemorrhage following a miscarriage.


For most of Skynyrd's tenure, Collins used a Gibson Firebird guitar fitted with a chrome, dog-eared P-90 pickup in the bridge position and a Gibson "teaspoon" nickel vibrato arm. In 1976 he switched to a natural-finished korina Gibson Explorer and would use that all the way through his tenure with the Allen Collins Band. Starting in late 1977, he would also use a Gibson Les Paul Jr. occasionally. And on "Gimme Back My Bullets", "Sweet Home Alabama", and many other songs, he used a Sunburst Fender Stratocaster after Ed King left. Collins has also been filmed playing an all-black, rosewood neck Stratocaster with white single-coil pickups and white control knobs.

Accident and Band Reunion

In 1986 a car accident killed Collins' girlfriend and left the guitarist paralyzed from the waist down, with limited use of his arms and hands. Collins plead no contest to vehicular manslaughter as well as driving under the influence of alcohol. He would never play guitar on-stage again.

All remaining members of Lynyrd Skynyrd reunited to perform in 1987, but due to his injury Collins was only able to participate as musical director. As part of his sentence for the 1986 accident, Collins was ordered by the presiding judge to address fans at every Lynyrd Skynyrd concert with an explanation of why he could not perform. Because of Collins' accident, the band donated a sizable amount of concert proceeds from the 1987-88 tour to the Miami Project, which is involved in treatment of paralysis.


Allen Collins died 23 January 1990 from chronic pneumonia resulting from complications of his earlier accident. He is buried in Jacksonville, Florida.

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