The late Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboardist Billy Powell lived in Florida. But he had a special place in the heart of one of Clarkston's most famous residents.
"I've got nothing but nice things to say about him," Kid Rock said on Thursday (Jan. 29), after word spread about Powell's death on Wednesday at his home in Orange Park, Fla. Police suspect that Powell, who was 58 and had called 911 to complain about breathing problems, died of a heart attack.
Powell was one of only two surviving members of the southern rock band's notorious 1977 plane crash. But his most recent achievement was recreating his "Sweet Home Alabama" piano licks for Rock's 2008 smash "All Summer Long," which Powell recorded in 2007 at Rock's Allen Roadhouse studio.
"He was on tour and came to Detroit, just showed up and spent half a day in the studio," Rock recalls. "Just watching him play was incredible. He's a classically trained pianist who obviously learned boogie woogie and blues with the best of them. To be able to play all those licks and be so busy but have it sit so well (in the song) is just a skill. They don't make piano players like that anymore, especially in rock 'n' roll."
Rock was also impressed with Powell's "humility," especially when he tried to pay him for the session.
"He got upset with me!," Rock says. "He said, 'I did that because I'm your friend, and I'm starting to get upset by you trying to pay me.' Just for someone of is caliber to do that is something I'll never forget."
Rock is planning to attend Powell's funeral, which is expected to be this weekend in Florida. Rock and his Twisted Brown Trucker Band toured with Skynyrd in 2008 and were planning another group of dates starting in mid-April, but Skynyrd, which canceled this coming weekend's shows in Louisiana and Mississippi, has not yet announced its plans.