Gary Rossington, the Last Original Member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Dies at 71

Gary Rossington, the founding guitarist for Lynyrd Skynyrd, has died, the band announced. Rossington was the last surviving original member of the southern rock band, a mainstay amid decades of lineup changes. He was 71 years old.

“It is with our deepest condolences and sadness that we have to report that today we have lost our brother, friend, family member, songwriter and guitarist, Gary Rossington,” the band announced on Facebook. “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.”

After surviving a 1976 car crash that inspired “That Smell,” Rossington survived the 1977 plane crash that killed Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and Cassie Gaines. Rossington has been hospitalized multiple times due to heart problems in recent years, and in 2021, he left the band, citing how travel was negatively affecting his blood oxygen levels.

Although the band’s debut album (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd) featured multiple hits: “Tuesday’s Gone,” “Gimme Three Steps,” and “Simple Man.” Rossington’s most famous contribution to the band’s discography was lead slide guitar on their ubiquitous nine-minute track “Free Bird”.

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