Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington dies aged 71

Gary Rossingtonthe last remaining original member of Lynyrd Skynyrddied of unspecified causes at the age of 71. The guitarist had overcome several health battles in recent years.

“It is with our deepest sympathy and sadness that we have to inform you that we have lost our brother, friend, family member, songwriter and guitarist, Gary Rossington, today,” the band wrote in an official statement. “Gary is now with his brothers and his Skynyrd family in heaven playing the sunny days as he always does. Please keep Dale, Mary, Annie and the entire Rossington family in your prayers and respect the privacy of the family at this time. difficult moments.”

It is unclear if Lynyrd Skynyrd will continue without the guitarist. Their longest serving member is now Johnny Van Zant, who began singing in place of his late brother Ronnie Van Zant in 1987. Rickey Medlocke, with Lynyrd Skynyrd again since 1996, also had a brief stint with the band in 1971–72.

Rossington died after enduring untold tragedy when Skynyrd’s the plane crashed, and then his own health issues — which date back more than a decade. Yet he remained in the composition of all groups since 1964. In fact, the setbacks only seemed to deepen his passion for music and for life.

“I just thank the Lord every day for allowing me to live a little more on this great planet, to live and see things happening around me,” Rossington said. Swamp in 2003, shortly after undergoing one of many cardiac surgeries. “I have a little pond in my backyard, and every time I catch a little fish, or see my girls, or eat a nice meal, or watch the sun go down over there on the lake, I thank God for every little thing you enjoy, you know?

Rossington originally teamed up with friends Ronnie Van Zant and Allen Collins in 1964 to form My Backyard in their hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, and the trio – joined first by Bob Burns and Larry Junstrom – helped start Lynyrd Skynyrd’s journey to multi-platinum Southern Rock Hit. Their big breakthrough came in 1974, when the band was invited to open for the WHO.

“Man, that was so awesome,” Rossington once said Musical speed cameras. “It was the first time we were exposed to a lot of people in the North and in the West. Until then, we were only playing for people in little teenage dens and little shows in the South. We hadn’t played a lot of when we went on the Who tour, it was amazing, there were between 10,000 and 20,000 people at each show, it blew our minds.

Soon, with the addition of Leon Wilkeson, Billy Powell, Ed King, Artimus Pyle and then Steve Gaines, Lynyrd Skynyrd was rocketing to stardom through songs like “Gimme Three Steps,”Sweet Home Alabama” And, Of course, “Free Bird”, fulfilling the dream of a very poor little boy. “We didn’t have a lot of money when I was younger,” Rossington said. guitar world in 2012, “so I had to collect Coke bottles and cash them in and get a paper itinerary to get myself a guitar.”

Watch Lynyrd Skynyrd perform “Gimme Three Steps” in 1976

Then tragedy struck. Van Zant and Gaines were among those killed when Skynyrd’s chartered flight collapsed between gigs in 1977. The rest of the band were seriously injured, including Rossington, who had to have steel rods inserted after breaking both legs, both arms, both wrists and his pelvis. Yet he continued, later reappearing with Collins in the Rossington Collins Band, before reviving Lynyrd Skynyrd in the late 80s – initially with other classic-era survivors including Powell, Wilkeson, Pyle and King. It was then that Johnny Van Zant took over as leader.

“It was taken away so quickly and tragically, but the music endures through it all,” Rossington said. Classic rock revisited. “We love playing music and being part of it.”

In time he would be the the last one standingas the 2009 death de Powell left Lynyrd Skynyrd without any other members before the crash. By this time, however, Rossington’s health was also failing. He suffered a heart attack in October 2015, forcing Lynyrd Skynyrd to undo the rest concert dates that year. At the time, his daughter Mary Elizabeth said doctors had “saved his life many times now. We were close to losing him this time and just praying that they soon develop even better techniques to treat the heart disease”.

Rossington’s most recent treatment included adding or repairing stents inserted during previous surgeries, including the quintuple bypass which he suffered in 2003. But Rossington, who was also hospitalized with a abdominal infection in 2015 once again vowed to return – and did. Skynyrd was back on the road in January 2016, shortly after Rossington’s 64th birthday. “It’s going to take more than a little heart attack to hold me back,” he said. at the time. More surgeries followed in 2017, 2019 and more recently in 2021.

The group released nine post-70s studio projects under Rossington’s management, the last two of which were Billboard Top 20 hits – 2009. god and guns and 2012 The last of a dying breed. Lynyrd Skynyrd hadn’t had such a strong album list since 1977’s multi-platinum Street survivors, the last with Ronnie Van Zant and Allen Collins. In 2016, Rossington released Take it on faithan album that featured the guitarist working alongside his wife Dale.

Music, Rossington admitted, was his only calling. “We have a joke that that’s all we know how to do,” he said. guitar world. “Picking strawberries or picking cotton or something – I don’t know what I would do.

In Memoriam: Death of 2023

A look at those we’ve lost

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top