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Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd | Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Gary Rossington, Last Surviving Member of the Original Lynyrd Skynyrd, Has Died

The last surviving original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, guitarist Gary Rossington, died on Sunday (5th March) aged 71. No specific cause of death was given at the time, but Rossington had serious health issues for a number of years, including undergoing heart surgery in 2021.

The news was announced by the band on Monday morning AEDT, asking fans to keep Rossington in their prayers and to respect his family’s privacy. “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 is now with his Skynyrd brothers and family in heaven and playing it pretty, like he always does.”

Lynyrd Skynyrd: ‘Free Bird’

Rossington was a founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, which started as a trio called Me, You, And Him featuring bassist Larry Junstrom and drummer Bob Burns. After meeting singer Ronnie Van Zant, the group settled on the name Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The band’s debut album landed in 1973 ans contained one of their most enduring hits, ‘Free Bird’. ‘Sweet Home Alabama‘, arguably their most famous song, appeared on their next album, Second Helping, which arrived in 1974. Rossington has writing credits on many of the band’s biggest hits, including ‘Sweet Home Alabama’.

In 1977, Rossington was one of the survivors of a horrific plane crash that killed numerous members of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s band and entourage, including Van Zant and guitarist Steve Gaines. Rossington was knocked unconscious in the tragedy, and reportedly woke up with the plane door on top of him. He broke both of his arms, legs, wrists and ankles, and his pelvis in the accident. Lynyrd Skynyrd disbanded after the accident but reformed in 1987.

Original drummer Bob Burns died in a car crash in 2015, while Junstrom died in 2019 at the age of 70. Rossington was the only member of the band to appear on all of their albums.

Lynyrd Skynyrd, led by Ronnie Van Zant’s younger brother Johnny, is due to head out on tour in the middle of 2023 alongside ZZ Top.

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