- Allen Collins
Infobox musical artist
Name = Allen Collins
Background = non_vocal_instrumentalist
Birth_name = Larkin Allen Collins, Jr.
Born = birth date|1952|07|19
Died = death date and age|1990|1|23|1952|7|19
Years_active = 1964 – 1990
Lynyrd Skynyrd The Rossington-Collins Band
The Allen Collins Band
Gibson Firebird Gibson Explorer
Larkin Allen Collins, Jr. (
July 19, 1952– January 23, 1990) was one of the founding members and guitarists of Southern rockband 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.
Allen Collins joined what would become one of the most memorable rock bands from the South just two weeks after
Ronnie Van Zantand Gary Rossington, along with Bob Burnsand Larry Junstrom. So came the birth of Lynyrd Skynyrdin 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 Bandand 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 Firebirdguitar 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 Explorerand 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 Stratocasterafter Ed Kingleft. 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
paralyzedfrom the waist down, with limited use of his arms and hands. Collins plead no contestto vehicular manslaughteras 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
pneumoniaresulting from complications of his earlier accident. He is buried in Jacksonville, Florida.
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