Leon Wilkeson

Leon Wilkeson
Known as “The Mad Hatter” for his trademark hats, Leon Wilkeson joined the Jacksonville-based group Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1971 as bass player. In 1972 he took a leave of absence only to rejoin the band six months later. Released in 1973 , “Pronounced” , featuring the rock-anthem “FreeBird” climbed the charts. 1974’s “Sweet Home Alabama” established the band as superstars. Leon survived the October 20th, 1977 plane crash that killed band members Ronnie Van Zandt and Steve Gaines. Leon joined the later reincarnation of the band and remained active with the group. Leon eventually developed a liver ailment and was advised by doctors to stop drinking. While taking a break from touring in a Ponte Verda Beach hotel outside Jacksonville he died in his sleep on July 27th 2001, at the age of 49.

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