Remembering bassist Leon Wilkeson of Lynyrd Skynyrd today (April 2). He would have been 65. Birthday wishes also go out today to drummer Dave Robinson of The Cars. He’s 68.

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Leon Wilkeson was the bassist for Lynyrd Skynyrd from 1972 up until his passing in 2001. Lynyrd Skynyrd were one of the biggest southern rock band’s of the 1970’s with classic albums like Second Helping, Nuthin’ Fancy, Gimme Back My Bullets, and Street Survivors, along with hits like “Freebird” and “Sweet Home Alabama”. Wilkeson earnes the nickname “Mad Hatter” for wearing colorful, flashy hats on stage during the band’s live performances.

Wilkeson had been suffering from liver and lung disease at the time of his passing on July 27, 2001. A song entitled “Mad Hatter” on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 2003 album Vicious Cycle was dedicate to Leon Wilkeson. I was fortunate to catch Lynyrd Skynyrd live in concert with Leon Wilkeson back in the day and he is very much missed in the band nowadays. Turn it up...crank some Skynyrd today in Leon's honor!

For more on Lynyrd Skynyrd, check out the band’s official website here.