Lynyrd Skynyrd: Free Bird (Ed King’s Isolated Bass)

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s debut album featured what has been called “the most-requested song in the history of rock music,” by reviewer Lorry Fleming. That song of course is “Free Bird”, which was originally released in 1973.

The recording on that debut featured Ed King on bass. And here is his line in all its glory (starting at the 21 second mark).

I shared this with Kevin to see what he thought, and he summed it up best: “Nice lines, good use of droning the d-string on some parts, plus the build up and double time is epic.”

Note: we’ve featured a different isolated version of this tune before – with bass and drums.

Get the Daily Bass Video in your inbox.

Sign up to get the daily bass video delivered to you.

Share your thoughts

  1. Richard Shaft

    good example of a guitar player who switched to bass – unnecessary overplaying. interesting to hear.

    • Brandon T.

      Not a very nice comment of an established work that IS INDEED a heavily requested song. Yeah, the guy played a lot of notes, but it was very melodic, IT WORKED within the context of how it was performed, and it contained feeling…just like the great Jamerson provided. Just because it isn’t root-five playing doesn’t mean it should be discounted.

      • Tim Craig

        I always get a kick out of “he switched from guitar to bass” and the negative connotation that is sometime associated with this. That bass line is fantastic, especially when you listen to the complete track. I suppose one could say Jack Bruce overplayed on Crossroads. Whatever, we all have our opinions and we all know what some are like.

    • Tim Pascale

      Disagree. 1 It grooves, although there are a few moments when it is lost for a second or two 2 It supports the vocals and doesn’t get in the way. 3 It serves the song, 4 During the three chord jam there is a rhythm guitar stating the chords constantly which is normally the function of the bass, so in context, the line creates rhythmic and melodic interest and excitement as well as tremendous drive. When you are rocking that much for almost 10 minutes, you are going to have some imperfections.

    • Curtis Campbell

      Your name is also interesting….. a clever way to disguise what most people call you… “Dick Rod”

    • Sir Paul would have probably played something similar, to me, this is Macca’s style all the way. I love it.

    • Jake

      and playing with a pick

  2. Mike Matthews

    Pretty good melodic rock bass playing. Some interesting note choices; but it works well for the tune.

  3. Kirk Bolas

    Interesting. During the “verse” and “chorus” sections, I liked how Ed held down the bottom, but imbued a melodic sense to it at the same time. During the extended solo at the end, however, his playing was way too busy for my taste. The late Ronnie Van Zant commented that Ed was the worst bass player that he had ever heard and prevailed on Leon to come back and Ed became the third in Skynyrd’s legendary three guitar attack.

  4. David Hunt

    Wow! And I always thought Leon played on that track! What an incredible musician Ed was!

  5. Joseph

    I remember hearing this song for the first time when I first hit the airwaves back in the day and I fell in love with this bass line more than anything. If you ask me the switch from guitar to bass was his calling. Bass is so much more expressive when you are in love with the instrument. When he walked up towards the end I almost went crazy and to this day I wait for that crescendo. He used the whole bass and played it like a boss. And I am a hard core, dyed in the wool funk player. There is no other way that this bass part could have, should have been played. Proof of this is this song was and still it one of rocks greatest hits and is a strong anthem. Remember this players be plain and haters be hat in. LOL.

  6. Marcin

    Very good playing. Does anybody know what bass is it?

    • Kirk Bolas

      Marcin…I seem to recall having read somewhere that he was playing a ’64 Fender Jazz Bass. I’m not 100% certain, but that’s what I remember.

  7. Brian Bortz

    This is absolutely killer, period.

  8. Hurricane Jimmie

    All ‘Freebird’ jokes aside, I think it’s a great piece of playing. Also, I don’t think it’s possible to overplay in a 3-guitar band. :-)

  9. Peter Beulke

    Love his playing ,Motown influence. , sounds more like a semi accoustic bass , Gibson . Does’nt sound like an early Jazz bass.

  10. Bazzbass

    what a beautiful bassline…..can’t talk now, have to go play it myself hehe

  11. Brian Kelly

    Absolutely love it! Wish I could download it!

  12. Artie Fields

    I never knew there was such an intricate bass line to this tune. Good job. Love the chords.