Guitarist Gary Rossington has died at the age of 71, a statement from Lynyrd Skynyrd read. No cause of death has been given for Rossington, who died yesterday. He was the last surviving original member of Skynyrd, a band that survived tragedy and numerous lineup changes over the years to cement their place in rock history.
“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 statement reads.
“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.”
Lynrd Skynrd released their debut album in 1973 which featured the nine-minute epic Free Bird. Rossington co-wrote Sweet Home Alabama, a hit from their second album, and several other Skynyrd tracks, including I Ain’t The One, Things Goin’ On, Don’t Ask Me No Questions and Gimme Back My Bullets.
Skynyrd famously played Knebworth House on 21 August 1976 and Rossington was one of 20 passengers who survived the October 20, 1977 plane crash near McComb, Mississippi, that claimed the lives of Lynyrd Skynyrd members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines, and three others.
Lynyrd Skynyrd reformed in 1987 and has continued ever since with several lineup changes, but Rossington was the only member of the band to appear on all of its albums. Johnny Van Zant, Ronnie’s brother and Skynyrd’s frontman since 1977, once said, “I don’t think you can have Lynyrd Skynyrd without Gary Rossington.”
Lynyrd Skynyrd played The Hydro, Glasgow, in 2019. “Skynyrd have always delivered the goods on stage,” MetalTalk said of the show, “and this performance was absolutely no different.”
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s upcoming US tour with ZZ Top is expected to go ahead despite Rossington’s death.