Larry Junstrom, Lynyrd Skynyrd Founding Bassist, Dead at 70
Larry Junstrom, Lynyrd Skynyrd's founding bassist and a longtime member of .38 Special, has died. He was 70 years old.
The details of Junstrom's cause of death were not immediately available, though .38 Special confirmed the news on Facebook. "The Big Man on the Big Bass has left us. He rocked arenas all over the world and succeeded in living his dream," the band writes. "He was truly one of a kind, a congenial traveling companion and a great friend to all with a humorous slant on life that always kept our spirits high -- a kind man with a big heart for everyone who crossed his path. There will never be another like him."
Junstrom, born Lawrence E. Junstrom on June 22, 1949, in Pittsburgh, Pa., was part of the initial lineup of Lynyrd Skynyrd, which formed in 1964 after Ronnie Van Zant, Bob Burns and Gary Rossington met in a baseball league. The band, which also featured Allen Collins, was originally called My Backyard, then the Noble Five, then the One Percent.
By 1970, Lynyrd Skynyrd were known by that name and had become a top group in their hometown of Jacksonville, Fla. Junstrom, however, left the band in 1971. He was replaced by Greg T. Walker, who was replaced by Leon Wilkeson. By the time the band released their debut album in 1973, their bassist was Ed King. (Wilkeson, though, would continue to be involved with the band, and was critically injured in the 1977 plane crash that killed Van Zant and others.)
Junstrom stayed in the Lynyrd Skynyrd orbit, though: In 1977, he joined .38 Special, a Southern rock band founded by Ronnie Van Zant's younger brother Donnie in 1974. Junstrom stayed with that band for 40 years, until 2014, when a hand injury required surgery and forced him to retire.
According to .38 Special's Facebook post, Junstrom is survived by his wife, Thania.
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