Last Surviving Lynyrd Skynyrd Founder Gary Rossington Passes Away At 71

Lynyrd Skynyrd announced on their official Facebook account that Gary Rossington, the band’s last original member, died Sunday at the age of 71. No cause of death was given for the late musician, but it is known that he had been dealing with health issues for a while.

Rossington started struggling with health problems following his quintuple bypass surgery in 2003. Later, he suffered a heart attack in 2015, followed by surgery. In 2019, he again had an operation to repair a leaky heart valve. Later on, in July 2021, Lynyrd Skynyrd shared a statement to announce that the late guitarist had undergone emergency heart surgery.

He also had to stay away from the stage during that period, and Damon Johnson temporarily replaced Rossington. A few months ago, Rossington had stated that he intended to put on as many shows as possible in 2023 despite all his health problems. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make his wish come true.

According to the statement posted by the band, the Lynyrd Skynyrd founding member died at 71. The remaining band members offered their condolences to the entire Rossington family and demanded respect for their privacy. A specific cause of death was not included in the band’s Facebook post.

Here is how Lynyrd Skynyrd announced Gary Rossington’s death:

“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.”

The late musician formed Lynyrd Skynyrd in Jacksonville, Florida, in the summer of 1964 with Ronnie Van Zant and Bob Burns after meeting with them while competing on rival baseball teams. He was also one of the surviving members of the plane crash in Mississippi that killed lead singer Van Zant, siblings Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines, and three others.

Gary rejoined Lynyrd Skynyrd a decade after the incident when Johnny Van Zant reformed the band. The guitarist was one of the co-writers of the Skynyrd classics, ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and ‘What’s Your Name.’ He played an integral role in shaping the band’s sound and success. One of his defining characteristics as a guitarist was his use of slide guitar, which can be heard in the songs like ‘Free Bird’ and ‘Simple Man.’