The Unsolved Murder of Lynyrd Skynyrd Bassist Leon Wilkeson
by Dale Bowman
When Leon Wilkeson was found dead in a Florida hotel back in 2001, the world not only lost a great bassist, but a totally unique, kind soul. In his book, The Unsolved Murder... former Wilkeson personal manager Dale Bowman doesn’t actually tell us who, if anyone, murdered Leon, but what he does do is present a very interesting and evidence laden document that definitely points toward foul play.
Of course, all of the aforementioned suspicious death talk comes very late in the book, which presents an enlightening and heartfelt look at the man many called “The Cat In The Hat.”
Bowman chronicles his time as Leon’s personal manager, writing about Leon’s fun loving and generous spirit. Bowman speaks of how Leon would give away any of his worldly possessions to anyone who asked. That including gold and platinum record awards, leather tour jackets - anything- which lead Bowman to observe how so many people hung around Leon just to mooch off of him.
Bowman paints a portrait of Leon as a true “Simple Man,” a man who was endlessly searching for a woman who loved him for who he was, not for his star status. A man fighting an alcohol addiction. A man who loved children because he was just a big kid himself.
The Unsolved Murder is a well written memoir to be sure. As for the question “was Leon killed?” that one is in no way answered, leading us to wonder if the book title is appropriate, or simply a ploy to sell more books.
That’s my only complaint, if any. The Mysterious Death of Leon Wilkeson may have been a better title choice. Still, it’s an interesting read for any Lynyrd Skynyrd fan, and many of Bowman’s personal accounts and stories are just plain fun. Like Leon himself.
-Michael Buffalo Smith