Lead guitarist and last surviving member of the Lynyrd Skynyrd band Gary Rossington passed away on Sunday, although the cause or location of death is still undetermined. An agent, Ken Levitan, confirmed the musician’s death on March 5, four months before their band’s scheduled tour.
Rossington was reportedly dealing with health issues for years. In 2015, he suffered from a heart attack, and in 2021, he went under emergency heart surgery.
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Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Guitarist And Original Member Gary Rossington Joins Band Brothers In Heaven
In an official statement from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Facebook page, they wrote:
“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.”
The original and founding members, Robert Burns Jr. and Ronnie Van Zant, passed away several years ago due to an accident. According to the band’s website, the three met in the summer of 1964. After their meeting and playing for opposing baseball teams, an impromptu jamming session happened and inspired them to form a band.
They had several names before settling with Lynyrd Skynyrd, including My Backyard, Noble Five, and One Percent. It was said that the name was inspired by a physical education teacher named Leonard Skinner, who prohibited boys from wearing long hair.
The band is pretty much active and still going on tours. In fact, they are set to appear at a festival in Florida next week. There is no confirmation yet on whether their appearance will be canceled due to Rossington’s sudden death.
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Gary Rossington Proved His Music Legacy Will Live On
Rossington was born in Jacksonville, Florida. At a young age, he wanted to become a baseball player, although after hearing Rolling Stones, he shifted his interest to music. In 2016, the guitarist told Billboard magazine (via The Guardian):
“It’s just in my blood, y’know? I’m just an old guitar player, and we’ve spent our whole lives and the 10,000 hours of working to understand how to play and do it. So, I think once you’ve got something going for yourself, you should keep it up and keep your craft going. When you retire, what’s next? I like to fish, but how much of that can you do, right?”
The band’s first album came out in 1973 and contained the nine-minute track Free Bird. Their other notable songs include Sweet Home Alabama, I Ain’t The One, Things Goin’ On, Don’t Ask Me No Questions, and Gimme Back My Bullets.
Lynyrd Skynyrd disbanded in 1987, but reformed and continued while changing lineups. Rossington is the only one to appear in all albums. He also outlived his fellow band guitarists, Allen Collins, Ed King, Hughie Thomasson, and Rickey Medlocke.
The band was included in Rolling Stone’s list of the top 100 greatest artists of all time. In 2006, Lynyrd Skynyrd was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Gary Rossington is survived by his wife, Dale Krantz-Rossington, their children, and grandchildren.
Source: Facebook, The Guardian
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