the cause of death has yet to be determined, but police believe it was heart-related, boivin said."he was supposed to have a meeting with his heart specialist" earlier this week but failed to show up, the chief said. "the doctor said he had heart problems."…powell, who took music lessons as a youth, became a roadie for the band until about 1972, when he helped set up the band’s equipment at a school prom. there, he sat down at a piano and began to play a version of "free bird." [ronnie] van zant hired him as keyboardist.the song featured a keyboard introduction that helped turn the piece into a rock ‘n’ roll anthem and made powell a star.
here’s a live version of that song, done @ the oakland coliseum on july 4, 1977, w/powell’s solo @ about 3:00 into it…
lynyrd skynyrd – freebird
(plus the boys really rock out about 8:00 in)
rest in peace, billy powell.