Lynyrd Skynyrd founding member and longtime .38 Special bassist Larry Junstrom has died at age 70.
The news was announced on the .38 Special Facebook page, where the band paid tribute to “The Big Man on the Big Bass.” In a loving note to their longtime bandmate, the band wrote, “He rocked arenas all over the world and succeeded in living his dream. 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.” The cause of death was not announced at press time.
Born Lawrence E. Junstrom in Pittsburgh on June 22, 1949, Junstrom was one of the founding members of Southern rock icons Skynyrd, joining the Jacksonville-Florida-bred band after singer Ronnie Van Zant, drummer Bob Burns and guitarists Gary Rossington and Allen Collins joined forces in 1964 as My Backyard. By 1969 they changed their name, releasing their debut album in 1973, Lynyrd Skynyrd (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd), which included such soon-to-be-classics as “Gimme Three Steps,” “Simple Man,” and one of the most enduring rock anthems of any era: “Free Bird.”
By the time the band broke out of Florida, though, Junstrom had been long gone — leaving in 1971 — replaced by Leon Wilkeson. He wasn’t out of the spotlight long, though, hooking up with another all-time classic Southern band, the Donnie Van Zant-fronted .38 Special in 1976 and playing with that band for 38 years on 12 studio albums until 2014 and scoring such hits as “Hold On Loosely” and “Caught Up In You.” He retired from .38 Special in 2014 following a hand injury that required surgery.
Skynyrd also paid homage to one of the band’s co-founders, writing, “Rest Easy, LJ, you will always be remembered as the big man, on the big bass with the even bigger heart!”
See .38 Special and Skynyrd’s tributes below.
This article was originally published at Billboard.