Any fans here of Leon Wilkeson?

IMMusicRulz

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Born in Newport, RI, in 1952, but raised in Jacksonville, Leon Wilkeson was the most well known bassist for Lynyrd Skynyrd. Having replaced their original bassist Larry Junstrom (Junstrom later joined fellow Southern Rock band 38 Special), Wilkeson was a very powerful bassist with a style that owed most to Paul McCartney of The Beatles, and above all, to Jack Bruce of Cream, John Entwistle of The Who, Phil Lesh of Jefferson Airplane and Berry Oakley of Allman Brothers.
Wilkeson played on all the Lynyrd Skynyrd releases up to 2000's Christmas Time Again, though it is widely rumored that he did not play on Pronounced Leh Nerd Skeh Nerd, his bass tracks having been replaced by Ed King, a skillful guitarist who also played on the original studio version of Incense and Peppermints by Strawberry Alarm Clock. Wilkeson was one of the survivors of the plane crash that killed Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Steve Gaines, though severe injuries would force Leon Wilkeson to find alternatives to playing bass.
Wilkeson was also nicknamed "The Mad Hatter" because of his tendency to wear top hats whenever he played.
His first bass was a Rickenbacker 4000 bass in Jetglo finish, but he is also well known for playing a Fenderbird (a Fender Precision Bass neck attached to a Gibson Thunderbird body) that was given to him by John Entwistle of the Who. (Lynyrd Skynyrd and Wishbone Ash toured with The Who in 1973, in support of the Quadrophenia album.) Wilkeson also played a 1964 sunburst Gibson Thunderbird bass, as well as a 1962 Fender Jazz Bass, a Guild bass and a 65 Fender Jazz Bass that Ed King gave to him. (the 65 Jazz Bass that Ed King gave Leon was eventually smashed onstage by Leon during a gig in 1975.) Wilkeson also used various Peavey and Ampeg SVT amps, which were crucial amps for every bassist in the 70s.
Wilkeson also played in the Skynyrd spinoff band the Rossington Collins Band, and eventually took part in the Lynyrd Skynyrd tour in 1987, but after battling various personal and health problems, Wilkeson died in 2001.

His Thunderbird and his Rickenbacker were both sold to private collectors several years ago, and I also believe his 62 Jazz was sold too. It is interesting to know where those basses are now...

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68Telebass

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Thanks for posting this! - my older sister was into Skynyrd! I heard a lot of him! Always great bass lines in Skynyrd.


Born in Newport, RI, in 1952, but raised in Jacksonville, Leon Wilkeson was the most well known bassist for Lynyrd Skynyrd. Having replaced their original bassist Larry Junstrom (Junstrom later joined fellow Southern Rock band 38 Special), Wilkeson was a very powerful bassist with a style that owed most to Paul McCartney of The Beatles, and above all, to Jack Bruce of Cream, John Entwistle of The Who, Phil Lesh of Jefferson Airplane and Berry Oakley of Allman Brothers.
Wilkeson played on all the Lynyrd Skynyrd releases up to 2000's Christmas Time Again, though it is widely rumored that he did not play on Pronounced Leh Nerd Skeh Nerd, his bass tracks having been replaced by Ed King, a skillful guitarist who also played on the original studio version of Incense and Peppermints by Strawberry Alarm Clock. Wilkeson was one of the survivors of the plane crash that killed Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Steve Gaines, though severe injuries would force Leon Wilkeson to find alternatives to playing bass.
Wilkeson was also nicknamed "The Mad Hatter" because of his tendency to wear top hats whenever he played.
His first bass was a Rickenbacker 4000 bass in Jetglo finish, but he is also well known for playing a Fenderbird (a Fender Precision Bass neck attached to a Gibson Thunderbird body) that was given to him by John Entwistle of the Who. (Lynyrd Skynyrd and Wishbone Ash toured with The Who in 1973, in support of the Quadrophenia album.) Wilkeson also played a 1964 sunburst Gibson Thunderbird bass, as well as a 1962 Fender Jazz Bass, a Guild bass and a 65 Fender Jazz Bass that Ed King gave to him. (the 65 Jazz Bass that Ed King gave Leon was eventually smashed onstage by Leon during a gig in 1975.) Wilkeson also used various Peavey and Ampeg SVT amps, which were crucial amps for every bassist in the 70s.
Wilkeson also played in the Skynyrd spinoff band the Rossington Collins Band, and eventually took part in the Lynyrd Skynyrd tour in 1987, but after battling various personal and health problems, Wilkeson died in 2001.

His Thunderbird and his Rickenbacker were both sold to private collectors several years ago, and I also believe his 62 Jazz was sold too. It is interesting to know where those basses are now...

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brookdalebill

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I’m a fan!
I saw LS at Palmer Auditorium (now Palmer Events Center) when I was in high school.
Leon stole the show, IMO.
He played a white Jazz bass, and wore one of his trademark top hats.
Unforgettable!
 

marshman

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Leon has always ripped very tasty basslines, and is someone I frequently consider a filter, as in "Would Leon play it that way?" He was, a lot like Berry Oakley, in that he seemed to be an excellent judge of the "too much bass" line in the sand and exactly how far to step back from that line.
 

brookdalebill

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Leon has always ripped very tasty basslines, and is someone I frequently consider a filter, as in "Would Leon play it that way?" He was, a lot like Berry Oakley, in that he seemed to be an excellent judge of the "too much bass" line in the sand and exactly how far to step back from that line.
Indeed!
Knowing good-busy playing from overplaying is a fine art.
Sir Paul and Leon are my favorites.
I’m very grateful I got to see Leon and the rest of the boys.
I saw them pre-Steve Gaines and the Honkettes.
Ultra tight band!
That’s not easy with three guitar players!
 

FenderGyrl

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I saw LS back in the early 70S when they were touring just prior to Second Helping. It was a small dance hall. Maybe 100 people there. Stood right in front of the stage. LS were so young...
I was 13 / 14 years old !


Afterwards, we stood outside of the back of the hall. I lived across the street from it, so I knew where they would exit. They had a beat up Winnebago. LOL

I remember Bob Burns and Gary coming out. Then Ronnie and Allen.
Allen was folliwing Ronnie like a kid who was in trouble. Ronnie was cussing and told us to get the F out of his way. He was a real A Hole !!!
Even when he was onstage.
Oh Well.

Leon came out. He was so laid back. I remember he was wearing platform two tone disco shoes !!! He had his Wild One Brando Leather Hat on. He was really cool. He asked me for a cigarette. I had some Swisher Sweets also. I gave them to him .

He just leaned on the wall with us and smoked. You could hear Ronnie ( I am guessing ) yelling in the Winnebago. We packed a bowl and he smoked that with us. He stayed outside talking with us until the equipment truck was packed. He gave me a brotherly hug and got in the winnebago. It was awesome. He had the nicest southern drawl. He had to be 20 or 21 years old !

I have always loved Leon.
Thumper. The Cat in the Hat.
The Mad Hatter.
RIP
 
Last edited:

brookdalebill

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I saw LS back in the early 70S when they were touring just prior to Second Helping. It was a small dance hall. Maybe 100 people there. Stood right in front of the stage. LS were so young...
I was 13 / 14 years old !


Afterwards, we stood outside of the back of the hall. I lived across the street from it, so I knew where they would exit. They had a beat up Winnebago. LOL

I remember Bob Burns and Gary coming out. Then Ronnie and Allen.
Allen was folliwing Ronnie like a kid who was in trouble. Ronnie was cussing and told us to get the F out of his way. He was a real A Hole !!!
Even when he was onstage.
Oh Well.

Leon came out. He was so laid back. I remember he was wearing platform two tone disco shoes !!! He had his Wild One Brando Leather Hat on. He was really cool. He asked me for a cigarette. I had some Swisher Sweets also. I gave them to him .

He just leaned on the wall with us and smoked. You could hear Ronnie ( I am guessing ) yelling in the Winnebago. We packed a bowl and he smoked that with us. He stayed outside talking with us until the equipment truck was packed. He gave me a brotherly hug and got in the winnebago. It was awesome. He had the nicest southern drawl. He had to be 20 or 21 years old !

I have always loved Leon.
Thumper. The Cat in the Hat.
The Mad Hatter.
RIP
Ronnie was indeed kinda intense.
He literally bullied Allen and Gary into playing in “his” band, when they were in high school.
He had a clear vision of what he wanted the band to be, and sound like.
He was definitely the leader.
It’s very cool you got to hang with Leon!
 




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