Southern rock music has lost one of its greatest legends as Gary Rossington, the co-founder and last surviving original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, has passed away at the age of 71. Rossington’s incredible slide guitar skills helped create some of the band’s most memorable tracks, including “Free Bird” and “Sweet Home Alabama.”
Rossington’s life was as fascinating as his music. Born in 1951 in Florida, he formed Lynyrd Skynyrd with Ronnie Van Zant in the mid-1960s. The band went on to achieve massive success with its first album,which featured such classic tracks as “Simple Man,” “Tuesday’s Gone,” and “Gimme Three Steps.” Rossington’s haunting guitar work on the finale track “Free Bird” became synonymous with the band’s name and helped make it a household name.
In 1977, the band suffered a catastrophic loss when their private plane crashed in Mississippi, taking the lives of three band members and three crew members. Rossington and others miraculously survived the accident, but Rossington suffered multiple severe injuries. Despite many health issues, Rossington remained a committed member of the band and continued to perform alongside various lineup changes that Lynyrd Skynyrd underwent over the years.
Rossington battled drug and alcohol addiction throughout his life, leading to significant health problems. In July 2021, he underwent further heart surgery, forcing him to take a break from the band’s touring and performances.
Rossington’s guitar playing abilities have had a significant impact on guitar music worldwide. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Lynyrd Skynyrd in 2006, recognizing the outstanding contributions made by Rossington and the band to the rock music industry. Alongside his fellow band members, Rossington wrote some of the band’s biggest hits, which continue to resonate with music lovers to this day.
Lynyrd Skynyrd issued a statement on their Facebook page expressing their grief at the loss of their guitarist, friend, and family member. They also requested privacy for Rossington’s family during this difficult time. Fans of the band and music lovers worldwide have paid tribute to Rossington, whose talent, energy, and enthusiasm were unmatched.
The music industry has lost a true rock legend. Rossington’s death marks the end of an era for the band, who had recently announced that their upcoming tour, which started in June and concludes on October 23rd, would be the band’s final tour.
Gary Rossington will be deeply missed by his fellow band members, friends, and fans worldwide. His music will always remain a source of joy and inspiration for generations to come. The immortal lyrics of “Sweet Home Alabama” will forever be associated with his name, and his legacy will live on forever in the hearts of his fans.