Gary Rossington, founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, dies at 71

Gary Rossington, the last surviving original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd who also helped found the band, died on Sunday aged 71. No cause of death was given.

“It is with our deepest sympathy and sadness that we have to inform you that we have lost our brother, friend, family member, songwriter and guitarist, Gary Rossington, today,” the band wrote on Facebook. . “Gary is now with his Skynyrd brothers and family in heaven and he is playing beautifully as he always does. Please keep Dale, Mary, Annie and the entire Rossington family in your prayers and respect the privacy of the family at this time. difficult.

Rossington cheated death more than once, Rolling Stone reported. He survived a car crash 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 stomach and liver. perforated.

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

Over the next few years, Rossington underwent a quintuple bypass in 2003, suffered a heart attack in 2015 and underwent numerous subsequent heart surgeries, most recently leaving Lynyrd Skynyrd in July 2021 to recover from another procedure. At recent shows, Rossington has been performing parts of the concert and occasionally missing full gigs.

Rossington was born on December 4, 1951, in Jacksonville, Florida, and was raised by his mother after his father’s death. After meeting drummer Bob Burns and bassist Larry Junstrom, Rossington and his new friends formed a band, which they tried to juggle with their love of baseball.

According to Rolling Stone, it was during a fateful Little League game that Ronnie Van Zant punched a line in the shoulder blades of opposing player Bob Burns and met his future bandmates. Rossington, Burns, Van Zant, and guitarist Allen Collins gathered that afternoon at Burns’ home in Jacksonville to jam the Rolling Stones’ “Time Is on My Side.”

Adopting Lynyrd Skynyrd as the band’s name—both a reference to an athletic trainer of the same name at Rossington High School and a character from the 1963 novelty hit “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh”—the band released their debut album ( Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd) in 1973. A collection of blues-rock tinged with country and Southern soul, the album now included classics like ‘Tuesday’s Gone’, ‘Simple Man’ and ‘Gimme Three Steps,” but it was the closing track, the nearly 10-minute “Free Bird” that became the band’s calling card, thanks in large part to Rossington’s evocative slide playing on his Gibson SG.

Rossington told Rolling Stone that he never considered Skynyrd a tragic band, despite all the drama and death of the band. “I don’t consider it a tragedy – I consider it a lifetime,” he said during the band’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. “I think the good outweighs on evil.”

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