I dug up an old email address I had from the composer of Sweet Home Alabama and one of the three guitar attack guitarists of Lynyrd Skynyrd, a Mr. Ed King, from interviews we had done years ago and it was still valid.
"Sure" he said when I asked if he was available for about an hour on Friday around 1pm.
"But I'll have to go help my wife with this flower thing we have going on so can we do about fifteen minutes first, and I'll call you back when I finish?"
Ed lives in west Nashville now with his wife in a nice home and is "happily retired".
"Well you find things to do, you run errands and do little things and the days go by fairly quickly".
Ed still plays every day, he told me, and when we got to talking about the great rock guitar intros, he came up with a few surprises. I played him my top ten list of guitar intros (not solos) and oddly enough, he wasn't really familiar with any of my choices excepting "Purple Haze", "Layla", and sure, "Sweet Home Alabama".
My list had "Thunderstruck" from AC/DC, Van Halen's "You Really Got me, "School's Out" from Alice Cooper, and "Working Man" from Rush.
"I'm surprised you don't recognize these" I said.
"I don't really listen to much guitar work any more because I'm afraid it will subconciously make me rip people off. But if you're going to have a top ten guitar intro list, make "Money For Nothing" (Dire Straits) number eleven. It just gets you right away."
"Oh and the greatest stratocaster intro I ever heard besides mine was from a band called Rhinoceros. I think the song was called "Sweet Brandy" or something. Just an incredibly funky stratocaster intro."
So I dug it up.
"I am the luckiest guitarist on the earth you've ever talked to" Ed told me.
"I got to work together with a total genius (Ronnie Van Zant) and nobody I've ever worked with before or since can compare. I'd fire something new on my guitar out there and play for a little in front of Ronnie and he'd sit there on the couch with his head in his hands, meaning he was thinking, and one time after thinking for a little bit, he came up to me and cupped his hands around my ear and sang...'two feets they come a creepin'...like a black cat do' and it just blew me away."
That was the opening line from Saturday Night Special that Ed shares credit with.
When I mentioned the recent passing of original drummer Bob Burns in a car accident near his home, he told me that he liked Bob, that he was a humble guy.
"His father said he had the manners of the king of England which he got from his Mom" I threw in there.
"Yeah well his father didn't know him very well" he laughed. "Either that or the manners for the king of England have changed."
Then it was me who laughed.