Gary Rossington, the last original member of the legendary southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, has passed away at the age of 71. Although no cause of death was immediately specified, the guitarist had been battling some health issues in recent months.
According to a statement from Skynyrd via 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.”
A founding member and constant presence in the band, Rossington survived not only the 1977 plane crash that led to the deaths of much of the core Skynyrd lineup but also a major car accident when his vehicle hit an oak tree the year prior.
Gary Rossington was part of Lynyrd Skynyrd from 1964-1977. He returned in 1987 for the band’s reunion and played with them full time from 1991 onward. He has appeared on every Lynyrd Skynyrd release.
During Skynyrd’s hiatus, he recorded a pair of albums with bandmate Allen Collins under the name the Rossington Collins Band. He also played with his wife Dale Krantz-Rossington under the name The Rossington Band.
Singer Johnny Van Zant, who joined Lynyrd Skynyrd for their reunion in 1987, is now the longest-surviving full-time member of the band.
Many musicians have made posts in tribute to the loss of Rossington, including Metallica who have made a post to Instagram, writing,
“RIP Brother Gary. Thank you for bringing me so much joy with your guitar playing and songwriting in one of my all time favorite bands, Lynyrd Skynyrd. — James”
Skynyrd will be touring alongside ZZ Top in celebration of their 50th anniversary this spring.