Gary Rossington, a guitarist and songwriter who was a founding member of the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, has passed away at the age of 71. The announcement was made on Monday through a post on the official Facebook page of the band. Rossington was the last surviving member of the band and had played with them until this year. He was due to be on board for a tour later this year.
Rossington had survived Lynyrd Skynyrd’s tragic plane crash in 1977, which had claimed the lives of four members of the band including Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, Larry Junstrom, and Bob Burns. In the crash, Rossington had broken both his legs, arms, ankles, and pelvis. He had recovered and rejoined the band when Van Zant’s brother Johnny reformed the group in 1987. Lynyrd Skynyrd had been recording and touring ever since.
According to Billboard, Rossington had been suffering from various health problems over the past couple of decades, but the cause of his death has not been revealed in the band’s statement. The band’s Facebook post also asked for privacy for Rossington’s family at this difficult time.
Formed in 1964 in Jacksonville, Florida, Lynyrd Skynyrd released their debut album LP in 1973, which included classic tracks like Gimme Three Steps, Tuesday’s Gone, and Simple Man. Rossington co-wrote some of the band’s biggest hits including Sweet Home Alabama and Free Bird. Lynyrd Skynyrd was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.
In their Facebook post, Lynyrd Skynyrd paid tribute to Rossington, stating, “Gary is now with his Skynyrd brothers and family in heaven and playing it pretty, like he always does.”