Billy Powell is a well-known musician from America. He is mainly known for being the keyboardist for the Southern Rock band called Lynyrd Skynyrd. He started keyboarding for the band in 1972 and did it till 2009 when he died. He is one of the most talented and famous keyboardists, and his life was also full of thrill and excitement. You can read below to learn more about his personal life and incredible career.
Billy Powell’s full name was Norris Powell, and he was born in Corpus Christi, Texas. His family had a military background, and his father was in the US navy. So, he spent most of his childhood in Paris as his father was posted there for several years. In 1960, his father died of cancer, and after that, he moved to the United States and started living in Jacksonville, Florida. When he was in Elementary school, he met Leon Wilkeson, and they became close friends. Leon was also the bassist for the band for the same band in which Billy was a keyboardist.
Billy was always interested in piano and also hired a local teacher to learn piano. His teacher used today that Billy doesn’t need any teacher as he himself was quite amazing at learning new skills. Billy went to the Sanford Naval Academy, Sanford, Florida. Later, he joined Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville and completed his graduations in 1970. After that, he went to a community college and picked the subject of music theory.
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Billy started his career as a roadie for Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1970 and worked with them for two years. The band had a show at the Bolles School in 1972, and during the break, Billy randomly sat at a piano and played ‘Free Bird’. The band got highly impressed by the skills of their roadie and offered him to become a permanent Keyboardist for the band. In 1973, Billy career got a boost after MCA Records signed his band up, which provided them with excellent exposure. They released three back-to-back albums, and their popularity rose to the sky in the next three years. After three days of releasing their third album, the band got into an Airplane crash, which took the lives of their five members and two pilots.
Fortunately, Billy didn’t suffer any major injuries but had numerous facial lacerations. He was discharged from the hospital in few days and was able to attend the funerals of his bandmates, who couldn’t make it through the crash. After the crash, he joined ‘Vision’ in 1984 and recorded three albums with them in 1987. He came back to Lynyrd Skynyrd and never left it again.
Billy was married to Ellen, and they have five kids; 2 sons and three daughters. Billy died on 28th January 2009 due to a heart attack. His band Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote; ‘Gifted Hands’ and recorded it as a tribute to the amazing keyboardist; Billy Powell.
Billy Powell had a total net worth of $3 million at the age of 56 when he died.