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Gary Rossington, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Last Original Member, Dies at 71


Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Stagecoach

Gary Rossington, the final surviving member of iconic 1970s southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, has died. He was 71 years old. 

The band made the announcement via their Facebook page, writing:

“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.”

Born December 4th, 1951, Rossington was part of the original incarnation of the band, which was called My Backyard when they formed in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1964 with Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, Larry Junstrom, and Bob Burns. Five years and a few cast changes later, they settled on the name “Lynyrd Skynyrd.” In 1973, they released their first album, Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd, which featured the legendary songs “Free Bird,” “Gimme Three Steps,” “Simple Man,” and “Tuesday’s Gone.” Their second album, Second Helping, was highlighted by another famous Skynyrd tune, “Sweet Home Alabama.” 

Just four years after breaking into mainstream radio, the band’s chartered plane crashed in 1977, resulting in the deaths of members Van Zant and Gaines, and left Rossington with two broken arms, a broken leg, and a punctured stomach and liver. 

In 1980, Rossington and Collins formed a new band, aptly named the Rossington-Collins Band. They released their debut album, Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere, that year followed by This Is the Way in 1981. 

As the tributes rolled in, country star Travis Tritt and classic Southern rocker Charlie Daniels from The Charlie Daniels Band offered their sympathies.

Although it is unclear how Rossington died, Rolling Stone reported that he had heart issues in recent years. 

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