Gary Rossington has died at the age of 71, his band Lynyrd Skynyrd has confirmed in a Facebook post. The guitarist was the last surviving original member of the band, who are famed for such songs as Sweet Home Alabama and Free Bird.
The group wrote on social media: “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,” the statement continued.
“Please keep Dale, Mary, Annie and the entire Rossington family in your prayers and respect the family’s privacy at this difficult time.”
A cause of death has not been confirmed, but Gary underwent emergency surgery on his heart in July, 2021.
The group’s line-up originally included lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, guitarists Gary and Allen Collins, drummer Bob Burns and Larry on bass guitar.
They spent years performing under various names before finally landing on Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1969.
They released their first album in 1973, by which time the line-up also included bassist Leon Wilkeson, keyboardist Billy Powell and guitarist Ed King.
The band had plenty of hits over the years, including Sweet Home Alabama, Free Bird, Simple Man and Tuesday’s Gone.
Lynyrd Skynyrd also saw more than their fair share of tragedy and disaster over the years.
Gary was involved in a car accident in 1976 after his Ford Torino crashed into a tree, which inspired the band’s song That Smell.
In 1977, the band made major headlines when lead vocalist Ronnie, guitarist Steve Gaines, his sister Cassie Gaine and the group’s road manager Dean Kilpatrick were all killed in a plane crash.
The crash also saw Gary break both of his arms and his leg, while his stomach and liver were punctured in the disaster.
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