Lynyrd Skynyrd bassist Ean Evans dies at 48

Bassist Donald (Ean) Evans of Lynyrd Skynyrd died Wednesday in Columbus, Miss., after a battle with cancer, according to a statement on the band's website. He was 48.

Bassist Donald (Ean) Evans of Lynyrd Skynyrd died Wednesday in Columbus, Miss., after a battle with cancer, according to a statement on the band's website. He was 48.

He was the second member of the Southern rock band to die this year — keyboardist Billy Powell died in January.

Evans spent seven years with the band, from 2001 to 2008, but had to leave when he was diagnosed with cancer.

He was not with Lynyrd Skynyrd during its heyday, in the 1970s, when it created hits such as Free Bird, What's Your Name and Sweet Home Alabama.

He joined the band in 2001, after former bassist Leon Wilkeson died in his sleep in a hotel room near Jacksonville, Fla.

"We were spending New Year's Eve together when this Skynyrd thing was happening," recalled his friend, guitarist Mike Chain.

"It didn't look like it was going to happen. But he just set his feet in the ground...and was ready to stand up and fly to the moon. And he did."

Evans toured with the band and appeared on its most recent albums, including ViciousCycle, Face to Face and Paper Sleeve Box.

Chain remembered Evans as an upbeat person who enjoyed what he did. "He was just one of those guys who was always a dreamer and always seeing ahead," he said.

Evans was born in Atlanta and began playing guitar at age 15 and switched to bass a few years later.

He also played with the bands Cupid's Arrow, Noon and the Outlaws, whose Hughie Thomasson also played a few years with Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Evans leaves his wife, Eva, and two daughters.

Lynyrd Skynyrd was formed in 1966 by a group of high school friends and suffered its first tragedy when lead singer Ronnie Van Zant was killed in a plane crash in 1977.

The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, but the induction ceremony named the pre-1977 lineup, omitting Evans.