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In 1964, drummer Bob Burns helped found the band that would go on to change Southern rock forever, Lynyrd Skynyrd. As the drummer, Bob played on Skynyrd’s first two studio albums before he left the band in 1974.
Even though Bob left the band, he continued to work with them every now and then over the years. As one of Skynyrd’s inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, he joined the current band for their performance at the induction ceremony.
Although Bob was known for his work as a drummer with Skynyrd, it turns out he actually has a writing credit on a song called “Mississippi Kid,” which was included on their first studio album (pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd). In a 2002 interview at his lake house, Bob revealed that even though he was given credit, his involvement in the creation of the song wasn’t what you’d expect.
“This is gonna tickle everybody’s fancy. I didn’t write any [of the song],” he said. “There was only a kick drum, maybe some congas and stuff Al [Kooper] put in there later, there wasn’t a drum part to that song.”
Bob said that his bandmates had been working on the song in the studio for hours, but they struggled to come up with a name. After partying in town, Bob hitched a cab to the studio to stop by for a visit, when lead singer Ronnie Van Zant asked for his help:
“I walked in the door and Ronnie said, ‘Bob! What we gonna name this song?’ I said ‘Mississippi Kid.’ I never thought about it, I never had a thought before it or after it, I just said it. They named it that, and Ronnie was so taken, and Al, with what I did, they gave me credit for writin’.”
It’s clear from his interview that Bob looked back on the memory and his entire time with Skynyrd with great fondness. You can watch his full interview below.
Sadly, Burns passed away 13 years after the interview was filmed, after he crashed his car into a mailbox and then a tree near his home on April 3, 2015.
Although he may be gone, Burns’ legacy lives on through Skynyrd’s incredible music, especially the song he named, “Mississippi Kid.”