Thu. Apr 18th, 2024

Gary Rossington, original Lynyrd Skynyrd Guitarist, Dead at 71

Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington was last surviving founding member of rock band

Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington died Sunday. He was 71.

The band’s representative confirmed Rossington’s death with Fox News Digital.

“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,” the band said online.

“Gary is now with his Skynyrd brothers and family in heaven and playing it pretty, like he always does.”

Gary Rossington was the last remaining original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd. He died Sunday at the age of 71.

Gary Rossington was the last remaining original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd. He died Sunday at the age of 71. (Roy Rochlin)

“Please keep Dale, Mary, Annie and the entire Rossington family in your prayers and respect the family’s privacy at this difficult time,” the post said.

His cause of death has not yet been revealed. The “Free Bird” musician had an emergency heart procedure in 2019.

Rossington had a history of heart issues and previously had surgery following a heart attack in 2015.

In October 1977, Gary was one of more than a dozen passengers who survived a plane crash in Mississippi that killed lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, siblings Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines, and three others.

Lynyrd Skynyrd member Gary Rossington performed for more than five decades with the band. 

Lynyrd Skynyrd member Gary Rossington performed for more than five decades with the band.  (Rick Diamond)

Allen Collins, Ronnie Van Zant and Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd perform live at The Oakland Coliseum in 1976.

Allen Collins, Ronnie Van Zant and Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd perform live at The Oakland Coliseum in 1976. (Richard McCaffrey/Michael Ochs Archive)

The crash also claimed the lives of assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray. Lynyrd Skynyrd was traveling on a small Convair CV-240 passenger plane.

Rossington broke both of his legs, his arms, ankles and pelvis when the airplane ran out of fuel and crashed into a field.

A decade after the incident, Gary rejoined the band when Ronnie’s brother, Johnny Van Zant, reformed the group.

Ronnie Van Zant (left) and five others were killed in the 1977 plane crash which Gary Rossington survived. 

Ronnie Van Zant (left) and five others were killed in the 1977 plane crash which Gary Rossington survived.  (Richard McCaffrey/ Michael Ochs Archive)

Charlie Daniels’ estate shared his condolences to Gary’s family and the famous Southern rock group.

“‘It’s all right now, keep on singin’ loud. It’s all right now, heaven should be proud’- Charlie Daniels 1979 The last of the Free Birds has flown home. RIP Gary Rossington, God Bless the Lynyrd @Skynyrd band. Prayers to Dale and the rest of his family,” they tweeted.

“Free Bird” was featured on the band’s debut album in 1973 and remains not only a rock epic, but also a pop culture staple.

Travis Tritt wrote, “I just learned that my dear friend, Gary Rossington passed away today. I’m heartbroken! Gary was not only a friend, but a collaborator that wrote songs with me and played guitar with me in studio recordings and onstage so many times. My heart goes out to Dale and the girls. RIP.”


Will Lynyrd Skynyrd still perform at the Florida Strawberry Festival Sunday?

PLANT CITY, Fla. (WFLA) – With the tragic passing of Gary Rossington, Lynyrd Skynyrds’ guitarist, and songwriter, the question looms on whether or not the band will still perform at the Florida Strawberry Festival.

The band was set to take the stage exactly one week from today.

On Sunday, the band confirmed on their Facebook page that Rossington, who was the last surviving original member of the Jacksonville rock band, died at the age of 71.

“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,” the band wrote. “Gary isWhile Lynyrd Skynyrd was scheduled to perform several tour stops alongside ZZ Top for “The Sharp Dressed Simple Man Tour,” the band was also set to perform on the final day of the Florida Strawberry Festival.

The band was announced as a headliner for the festival back in November 2022.

As of this report, neither Lynyrd Skynyrd nor the Florida Strawberry Festival has made an announcement regarding the band’s performance on March 12.

According to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s website, Rossington helped formed the band in the 1960s with Ronnie Van Zant and Bob Burns, who met while playing on opposing baseball teams in Jacksonville, Florida as teenagers. source