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Jimmie Van Zant, Cousin of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Ronnie Van Zant, Dies at 59

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Jimmie Van Zant, a Southern rocker whose cousins are Ronnie and Johnny Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Donnie Van Zant of 38 Special, has died after a long battle with liver cancer. He was 59 years old.

“It is with a very heavy heart that we inform you that Jimmie Van Zant has passed away today holding his wife’s hand,” read a message on his Facebook page. “His very close friends, Steve & Sue Prindel were alongside Jimmie & Zohra, as Jimmie transitioned. We ask that you keep Jimmie, Zohra and all of his loved ones in your thoughts & prayers. We also ask that you respect their need for privacy in this very sad and difficult time. Thank you. God bless you and let the Freebird Fly !!!”

Lynyrd Skynyrd shared the news with a post of their own. “Jimmie Van Zant, Ronnie and Johnny’s cousin, passed away this morning. His family appreciates your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. We know you’re lookin’ down on us from rock ‘n’ roll heaven, Jimmie…”

According to the Daily Banner, Jimmie had been in hospice care in Florida when he passed and had been waiting on a liver transplant for a number of years. An online funding campaign had been established to help raise money, and there had been several benefit concerts for him, as well.

Van Zant had released three albums in his career, The Jimmie Van Zant Band (1996), Southern Comfort (2000) and Feels Like Freedom (2012). You can watch the video for “Unfinished Life” above.

Upon the release of Feels Like Freedom, he was the subject of a Billboard profile where he discussed the pros and cons of having the Van Zant name. “First of all, it’s my family, so I am very glad to be a part of it,” he said. “I’ve been asked many times whether doors open or close because of it. In my day-to-day, the Van Zant carries weight no different than DuPont paint or Chevrolet or Ford. There’s a brand name, but there is to be expected quality, and we try to deliver that. It gets tough sometimes. I get messages on Facebook saying I’m riding off of coat tails, but it’s no different than if your dad had a restaurant or a car dealership. Before he passes on, he tells you to carry it on. Do you want to sell out? No, it’s priceless. That’s something you can’t buy.”

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