Rock: death of Gary Rossington, last founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd

Rock: Death of Gary Rossington, last founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd


Guitarist Gary Rossington, the last founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, died on Sunday at the age of 71, the American rock band announced. 

< p>A “Southern rock” group, Lynyrd Skynyrd is best known for two cult songs, “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Free Bird”.

“Gary is now with his brothers and his Skynyrd family in heaven and he is playing well as he always does,” the group wrote on Facebook.

Lynyrd Skynyrd did not specify the cause of death . Rossington suffered from heart problems and underwent emergency heart surgery in 2021, according to a post from the band at the time.

Born in 1951 in Florida, Rossington founded the first iteration of Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1964 with drummer Bob Burns and bassist Larry Junstrom. His guitar solo in “Free Bird,” a nearly ten-minute long song, is considered one of the greatest in rock history.

The guitarist survived several serious accidents in the 1970s, including a car accident in 1976 and the infamous 1977 air crash in which three members of the band died.

The band broke up after the death of singer Ronnie Van Zant , guitarist/vocalist Steve Gaines and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines in the crash. But it had reformed in 1987 with new members, including Van Zant's younger brother, Johnny, on vocals.

Rossington was the only original member still in the band, who continued to perform since, with a tour due to start in July.

Lynyrd Skynyrd was among the right-wing rock bands that took to the stage on the sidelines of the 2016 Republican Convention, during which Donald Trump had been nominated for the presidency of the United States.