Guitarist Gary Rossington, Last Surviving Lynyrd Skynyrd Founding Member, Dies at 71.

Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd performing at 98.5 KFOX, Greg's Kihncert at Shoreli
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Gary Rossington, legendary guitarist and the last surviving founding member of Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, has passed according to an announcement made on the group’s official Facebook page Sunday evening. Rossington was 71.

“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,” their statement said.

“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 statement continued.

File/Guitarist Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd performs at the Omni Coliseum on July 5, 1975 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Tom Hill/WireImage)

Rossington cheated death more than once, Rolling Stone reported.

He survived a car accident in 1976 in which he drove his Ford Torino into a tree, inspiring the band’s cautionary song “That Smell.”

A year later, he emerged from the 1977 plane crash that killed singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines, with two broken arms, a broken leg, and a punctured stomach and liver.

“It was a devastating thing,” he told Rolling Stone in 2006. “You can’t just talk about it real casual and not have feelings about it.”

AP reports in later years, Rossington underwent quintuple bypass surgery in 2003, suffered a heart attack in 2015, and had numerous subsequent heart surgeries, most recently leaving Lynyrd Skynyrd in July 2021 to recover from another procedure.

At recent shows, Rossington would perform portions of the concert and sometimes sat out full gigs.

Gary Rossington (Center) and Ronnie Van Zant (on Right) of Lynyrd Skynyrd, backstage at RFK Stadium, in Washington. (Leonard M. DeLessio/Corbis via Getty Images)

Rossington told Rolling Stone he never considered Skynyrd to be a tragic band, despite all the band’s drama and death.
“I don’t think of it as tragedy — I think of it as life,” he said upon the group’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2006. “I think the good outweighs the bad.”

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