Gary Rossington: Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist and founding member dies, aged 71

6 March 2023, 11:49

Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd has died, aged 71
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd has died, aged 71. Picture: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Stagecoach

The guitarist, founding member and the last surviving original member of the band has passed away.

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Lynyrd Skynyrd's last surviving original member, Gary Rossington, has sadly died at the age of 71.

The co-founding member of the legendary Florida rock band passed away on Sunday 5th March 2023.

A statement from the band's Facebook page 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.

"Please keep Dale, Mary, Annie and the entire Rossington family in your prayers and respect the family's privacy at this difficult time."

No cause of death is known at this time.

It is with our deepest sympathy and sadness that we have to advise, that we lost our brother, friend, family member,...

Posted by Lynyrd Skynyrd on Sunday, March 5, 2023

after driving his Ford Torino into a tree.

In 1977, a plane crash killed the band's singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines. However, Gary survived with two broken arms, a broken leg, and a punctured stomach and liver.

Rossington also battled with drug and alcohol addictions and heart-related issues.

In 2019, the lead and rhythm guitarist underwent emergency heart surgery and was forced to skip the band's US shows.

A statement read at the time: "Our thoughts and prayers are with Gary Rossington as he recovers from emergency heart surgery. Gary is home resting and recovering with his family at home. He wants everyone to know he is doing good and expects a full recovery.

"After this past year, the country being shut down and everything we have all been thru, The Rossingtons encouraged the band to go perform in his absence. Music is a powerful healer! We all felt playing the shows and bringing the music to y’all was a better option than cancelling the performances.

"We wish Gary a speedy recovery and we will see the Skynyrd Nation very soon!

"Please do us a favour and say some prayers for the Rossington family and if you would like to leave him a (positive) message please do! He will look forward to reading them! (sic)."

He had undergone quintuple bypass surgery in 2003, before suffering a heart attack in 2015.

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama (Audio)

Rossington gave up his baseball dreams to pursue music after being inspired The Rolling Stones.

The band came about after he and his bandmates Ronnie and Bob Burns met while playing on rival Jacksonville baseball teams.

They would jam together and were later joined by guitarist Allen Collins and bassist Larry Junstrom. They went through several band name changes before arriving at Lynyrd Skynyrd, the same name as Gary's high school sports coach and the character in the novelty tune Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh.

Altogether, the band has released 14 studio albums, with the last being 2012's Last of a Dyin' Breed.

READ MORE: Stars and musicians we sadly lost in 2022

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