Gary Rossington was the last original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd to still be alive. He died on Sunday at the age of 71. No reason was given for the death. The band wrote on Facebook –
“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.”
Rolling Stone said that Rossington had escaped death more than once. He was in a car accident in 1976 when he drove his Ford Torino into a tree. The band wrote the song “That Smell” to warn people not to do the same thing.
So far this year, there have been a number of high-profile deaths, which you can learn about from our coverage:
- Architect Rafael Viñoly Who Designed “The Walkie-Talkie” Dies at 78.
- Tom Sizemore “Saving Private Ryan” Actor Dies After Aneurysm Aged 61.
A year later, he survived the plane crash in 1977 that killed singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and backup singer Cassie Gaines.
He had two broken arms, a broken leg, and his stomach and liver were punctured. He told Rolling Stone in 2006 (aforementioned) –
“It was a devastating thing.”
“You can’t just talk about it real casual and not have feelings about it.”
In later years, Rossington had quintuple bypass surgery in 2003, a heart attack in 2015, and many more heart surgeries. He left Lynyrd Skynyrd in July 2021 to recover from another procedure. Rossington played parts of the show at recent shows, but sometimes he sat out whole gigs.
Rossington was born in Jacksonville, Florida, on December 4, 1951. After his father died, his mother raised him. Rossington met drummer Bob Burns and bassist Larry Junstrom, and he and his new friends put together a band while still loving baseball.
Rolling Stone says that Ronnie Van Zant met his future bandmates when he hit a line drive into Bob Burns’s shoulder blades during a fateful Little League game. Rossington, Burns, Van Zant, and guitarist Allen Collins gathered that afternoon at Burns’ Jacksonville home to jam the Rolling Stone’s “Time Is on My Side.”
Adopting Lynyrd Skynyrd as the group’s name — both a reference to a similarly named sports coach at Rossington’s high school and to a character in the 1963 novelty hit “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh” — the band released their debut album in 1973.
The album was a mix of country-influenced blues-rock and Southern soul, with songs like “Tuesday’s Gone,” “Simple Man,” and “Gimme Three Steps” that are now considered classics. However, it was the almost 10-minute “Free Bird” that became the group’s signature song, thanks in large part to Rossington’s evocative slide playing on his Gibson SG.
Rossington told Rolling Stone that he never thought of Skynyrd as a sad band, even though there was a lot of drama and death in the group.
He said upon the group’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2006 –
“I don’t think of it as tragedy — I think of it as life.”
“I think the good outweighs the bad.”
Here concludes our coverage of the passing of Gary Rossington, guitarist for Lynyrd Skynyrd. So far, no reason has been given for the death, but we will let you know if anything is found.