Founding guitarist and last surviving member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Gary Rossington, has died. He was 71 years old.
“It is with our deepest condolences and sadness that we have to report the loss of our brother, friend, family member, songwriter and guitarist, Gary Rossington, today,” the band announced on their official Facebook page Sunday night. . “Gary is now with his Skynyrd brothers and his family in heaven and he plays nice, like he always does. He keeps Dale, Mary, Annie and the entire Rossington family in his prayers and respects the family’s privacy at this difficult time.”
No cause of death was provided, but Rossington was known to have battled various heart problems and had emergency heart surgery in 2021 during Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Big Wheels Keep on Turnin’ Tour. After surgery, he left the band as traveling was negatively affecting his blood oxygen levels.
Famously, after a 1976 car crash that inspired the song “That Smell,” Rossington also survived the plane crash that killed his band members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Gaines’ sister Cassie Gaines” and a manager. on the road in 1977, just three days after the release of their fifth studio LP “Street Survivors”.
Rossington was born on December 4, 1951 in Jacksonville, Florida, and was raised by his mother after the death of his father. In the summer of 1964, teenagers Rossington, Van Zant and Bob Burns met while competing on Rival baseball teams and were later joined by Allen Collins and Larry Junstrom. They performed under various names before renaming themselves Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1969.
Rossington was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2006 for his work with the band and contributed to some of their most iconic songs, including “Free Bird” and “Sweet Home Alabama.” On the former, Rossington’s iconic lead slide guitar rendition can be heard throughout its nine minutes.
His death comes just five months before Lynyrd Skynyrd kicked off his The Sharp Dressed Simple Man Tour with ZZ Top on July 21.