TAMPA (CelebrityAccess) — Gary Rossington, the last of the founding members of the legendary southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd has died. He was 71.
The band shared news of Rossington’s passing via social media.
The statement did not provide additional information about a cause of death, but Rossington suffered a heart attack in 2015 that forced the cancellation of multiple shows and underwent emergency heart surgery in 2021.
Rossington was still in his teens when he joined Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, Larry Junstrom and Bob Burns to form the group that would eventually become Lynyrd Skynyrd and would go on to play a key role in defining the band’s distinctive early sound.
He also co-wrote some of the band’s most notable hits, such as “Simple Man” and “Sweet Home Alabama” and put his trademark slide guitar mark on the band’s iconic hit “Free Bird.”
Rossington was also one of the survivors of the band’s notorious 1977 plane crash that killed fellow band members Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines, backup singer Cassie Gaines (Steve’s older sister), as well as assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary, and co-pilot John Gray
During Skynyrd’s hiatus in the early 1980s, Rossington teamed up with Allen Collins to form the Rossington Collins Band and The Rossington Band with his wife Dale before finally reuniting with his former bandmates to revive Skynyrd in 1996.
He continued to perform with the group through this year as they complete the final dates of their farewell tour which were rescheduled due to COVID.
Rossington, along with fellow Skynyrd members Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, Ed King, Steve Gaines, Billy Powell, Leon Wilkeson, Bob Burns, and Artimus Pyle were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.
Charlie Brusco, one of the most influential music industry veterans in the business paid tribute to Rossington via his Facebook page. His tribute, which you can read HERE says in part:
“I am crushed. I met Gary Rossington along with the original Skynyrd lineup the morning of March 1, 1974. So many great memories including Gary being a best man at Cindy and my wedding. We lived another dream and through all this Gary was the same guy I met that morning of 1974.
“Dale, Mary and Annie will get all the love and prayers from all of us but they loved him the most and they were the love of his life. Please respect their privacy.
“God Bless Gary Rossington and rest in peace my friend.”