Gary Rossington -LYNYRD SKYNYRD's original guitarist and founding member dies at 71
The last-surviving founding member of LYNYRD SKYNYRD guitarist Gary Rossington, has died at the age of 71. The news was confirmed in a statement from the band on Facebook(opens in new tab).
The statement read: "It is with our deepest sympathy and sadness that we have to advise, that we lost our brother, friend, family member, songwriter and guitarist, Gary Rossington, today.
"Gary is now with his Skynyrd brothers and family in heaven and playing it pretty, like he always does.
Born in Jacksonville, Florida, in late 1951, Rossington co-founded LYNUYRD SKYNYRD in 1964 alongside Ronnie Van Zant, Bob Burns, Allen Collins, and Larry Junstrom.
Just three days after the release of Street Survivors, album Rossington survived the tragic plane crash that claimed the lives of band members Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines, plus backing singing Cassie Gaines and three others.
After the tragic accident and the dismiss of the band, Rossington formed the Rossington Collins Band – with fellow LYNYRD SKYNYRD guitarist Allen Collins – in 1979, but he returned to LYNYRD SKYNYRD when they reformed in 1987 for a reunion tour, with Ronnie's brother Johnny Van Zant as frontman.
“If Johnny hadn’t done it, it wouldn’t have happened," Rossington told us. "There’s no one else who could sing those songs." . Al9ong with an everchaniging line up, that incluede Hughie Thomasson (OUTLAWS) and Rickey Medlocke (BLACKFOOT) they continue to record and release original work under the monicker of LYNYRD SKYNYRD for all these years , increasing their acceptacne by younger audiencers and their popularity among the Southern Rock fans, for whom they considered the Holy Graal of Soutehrn Rock.
Health issues were giving him hard times for the last decade. More recently Rossington has missed a number of shows due to ill heath. He had a heart attack in 2015 and underwent heart surgery in 2021, but in October that year he returned to the stage once more, as part of the band's ongoing farewell tour.
"I’m in my mid-sixties, and my health isn’t that great any more," he told Classic Rock magazine in 2017. "I’ve got a bad heart and I get pains in my legs. I have a lot of bones that were broken, and they ache a lot. I’ve got arthritis, too."
Following the deaths of guitarist Allen Collins in 1990, drummer Bob Burns in2015 and bassist Larry Junstrom in 2019, Rossington was the last surviving member of the band's original lineup.
"This is all I’ve ever known and wanted to do since I was thirteen years old – play guitar and be in a band and all that,” he told us. “I’m just some dumb guitar player who quit school to make it in a band. We all did."