In Memoriam: Larry Junstrom
Larry Junstrom, .38 Special’s bassist and an original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, has died. He was 70 years old. The news was confirmed on the .38 Special Facebook page.
“The Big Man on the Big Bass has left us. He rocked arenas all over the world and succeeded in living his dream,” the band wrote. “He was truly one of a kind, a congenial traveling companion and a great friend to all with a humorous slant on life that always kept our spirits high – a kind man with a big heart for everyone who crossed his path. There will never be another like him. We are sending our devoted love, strength, and comfort to his wife Thania and Larry’s family. We will miss our friend and partner.”
Junstrom was born in 1949 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania before his family moved to Jacksonville, Florida when he was ten. It was there he became part of the flourishing southern rock scene and befriended Ronnie Van Zant. He joined a band with Van Zant called My Backyard in 1964, which went through several name changes until it became Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1970.
“In Skynyrd, back then, we played mostly covers of the Stones, Yardbirds, Cream, The Beatles and even some Jefferson Airplane,” he told Swampland in 2003. “My favorite bass players were people like Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane and Berry Oakley of The Allman Brothers. We all used to go see them when they were still called the Allman Joys. I am also a huge fan of Paul McCartney of The Beatles and Jack Bruce of Cream.”
Junstrom left the band by 1971 before their debut LP. He did record on the 1968 song “Need All My Friends,” which is considered to be the first song the band recorded. The Van Zant connection continued when six years later he joined Ronnie’s younger brother Donnie’s band, 38 Special. He recorded on all 12 of the band’s studio albums including 1981’s Wild-Eyed Southern Boys, which had the hit “Hold On Loosely.” A hand injury forced Junstrom to retire from the band in 2014 after 37 years.
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Larry Junstrom.