Lynyrd Skynyrd Founding Guitarist Gary Rossington Has Died

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Gary Rossington, co-founder and last surviving original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, passed away on Sunday at the age of 71.

The band announced his death on Facebook, but did not disclose the cause of death. The statement expressed deep sympathy and sadness for the loss of their “brother, friend, family member, songwriter and guitarist.”

Rossington’s life was full of close calls, according to Rolling Stone. He survived a serious car accident in 1976, which inspired the band’s song “That Smell.” A year later, he was involved in a tragic plane crash that killed three members of the band, including lead singer Ronnie Van Zant. Rossington sustained multiple injuries, including two broken arms, a broken leg, and a punctured stomach and liver.

“I’ve talked about it here and there, but I don’t like to,” Rossington said in 2006 of the crash. “It was a devastating thing. You can’t just talk about it real casual and not have feelings about it.”

Rossington underwent quintuple bypass surgery in 2003 and suffered a heart attack in 2015. He had several subsequent heart surgeries and had to take a break from Lynyrd Skynyrd in July 2021 to recover from another procedure. At recent shows, Rossington would sometimes sit out portions or even whole performances.

Who is Lynyrd Skynyrd?

Lynyrd Skynyrd is a legendary American rock band that was formed in Jacksonville, Florida in 1964. Lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Gary Rossington, guitarist Allen Collins, bassist Larry Junstrom and drummer Bob Burns founded the band that was originally known as My Backyard. The band changed their name and line up several times over the next five years before settling on the name Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1969.

Lynyrd Skynyrd is widely recognized for popularizing Southern rock music, and their signature sound is characterized by bluesy guitar riffs, soulful vocals, and lyrics that often reflect the struggles of working-class Americans. The band’s most famous songs include “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Free Bird,” and “Simple Man.” Despite the tragic plane crash in 1977 that claimed the lives of several members of the band, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s music has endured and continues to be celebrated by generations of fans.

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