Allen Collins got start in music by learning to play the guitar when he was twelve years old. After paying dues with his first band “The Mods”, he joined Lynyrd Skynyrd and never looked back. Allen never took any music lessons, but will always be remembered for unique songwriting and guitar playing skills.
As original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, most unforgettable rock band that came from the south, Allen Collins co wrote some of their most memorable songs, including “Free Bird” and “Gimme Three Steps”.
While at the peak of their career, Skynyrd’s plane crashed into Mississippi swamp, killing six people on board, including front man Ronnie Van Zant. Allen Collins was badly injured in that accident. He suffered from a severe damage to his right arm and two broken spinal columns. An amputation was recommended for him but his father disapproved.
Collins recovered physically from the injuries and during the 80’s he continued performing on the stage with The Rossington – Collins Band and later with his own Allen Collins Band which released one album, “Here, There, & Back”, in 1983, but broke up soon after that.
Allen Collins life went on a slope from there. In 1985, he was involved in a car accident that took the life of his girlfriend Debra Lizama Watts and left him paralyzed from the waist down. With little choice, Allen pleaded guilty to DUI charges. No longer able to play guitar, Collins’ career was over.
As Lynyrd Skynyrd got back together, Collins participated as a consultant on the tour, helping select set lists and he also made appearances on stage, talking about dangers of driving under the influence.
After the Tribute Tour, Allen disappeared from the music scene and led reclusive life until his death. After few months in the hospital in late 1989, Allen Collins passed away due to chronic pneumonia as a result from complications of his earlier accidents in January 23, 1990. He was buried in Jacksonville, Florida.
Allen Larkin Collins: July 19th 1952 – January 23rd 1990