Gary Rossington, the final original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, had died. He was 71 years old.
The iconic Southern rock band announced the news of his passing on Sunday evening (March 5).
“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 group’s official Facebook page shared.
The band went on to share sympathy for Rossington’s loved ones.
“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.”
Gary Rossington was the last original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd. He formed the group alongside Ronnie Van Zant, Bob Burns, Allen Collins, and Larry Junstrom in 1964. The band was originally called My Backyard but later changed its name to Lynyrd Skynyrd in the early 1970s.
The Florida native, born December 4, 1951, was one of six band members who survived a 1977 plane crash that killed Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines, and three other people.
Rossington sustained extensive injuries in the crash, including a broken pelvis as well as two broken arms, legs, wrists, and ankles. Despite the traumatic injuries, he recovered and returned to the stage. He did, however, have a steel rod in one of his arms and one leg.
His cause of death has yet to be revealed. However, the guitarist has had a long history of heart issues.
The “Simple Man” songwriter previously suffered a heart attack in 2015. In 2016, Rossington underwent emergency heart surgery before having his heart valve repaired in 2019.
“I’ve had heart attacks on stage a lot,” Rossington told The Tampa Bay Times in 2018. He also revealed that Doctors have been suggesting that he quit working for nearly two decades.
He has also undergone several other heart surgeries in recent years that often caused him to take several hiatuses from the band.
Rossington returned to the stage in October of 2021, just four months after undergoing emergency heart surgery.
“It was a wonderful surprise to have Gary back on the stage in Atlanta,” it said. “Keep feeling better, bossman!”
Gary Rossington was also a member of the Rossington Collins Band, which was formed in 1979 following the plane crash.
Lynyrd Skynyrd signed with Sounds of the South Records in 1972. The band’s self-titled album was released the following year. The self-titled debut included the song “Free Bird,” which is one of the most-recognized singles in the Southern rock genre.
The band is also known for hits such as “Simple Man,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” and “What’s Your Name.”
Lynyrd Skynyrd released more than 60 albums and sold over 30 million units. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.