In July 2001, Leon Wilkeson was in Florida attending to a DUI charge and taking a break from the band’s tour. He was checked in at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Beach Club. It was there where he was found dead in his room on July 27. According to a Billboard report, he died of natural causes in his sleep. The medical examiner reported that Wilkeson suffered from liver and lung disease at the time of his death. Toxicology tests were also ordered to determine whether there were drugs in his system at the time.

Before his death, Lynyrd Skynyrd was scheduled to go on a tour. However, the performances were canceled due to Wilkeson’s untimely death. He was only 49 years old. As reported by Rolling Stone, Wilkeson was buried at the Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville. His family requested supporters to make contributions to the Musician’s Assistance Program instead of giving flowers. The program provides counseling about different issues including depression, stress, anxiety, and relationships.

After the plane crash in 1977 that killed Lynyrd Skynyrd band members, Ronnie Van Zant’s widow allowed the band to still use the Lynyrd Skynyrd name as long as there were at least three original members that made up the group. However, Wilkeson’s death left Lynyrd Skynyrd with only two long-time band members. After Wilkeson’s death, Lynyrd Skynyrd continued to play with Ean Evans as the replacement bassist per All Music.

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