Longtime LYNYRD SKYNYRD guitarist Gary Rossington has passed away
The 71-year-old guitarist’s death was announced by the members of LYNYRD SKYNYRD yesterday (Sunday, March 5).
The band posted to social media: “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.
“Please keep Dale, Mary, Annie and the entire Rossington family in your prayers and respect the family’s privacy at this difficult time.”
Rossington was the sole remaining original member of LYNYRD SKYNYRD. He had been dealing with some health issues as of late, including undergoing emergency heart surgery in 2021. Six years prior, Gary suffered a heart attack. He also underwent quintuple bypass surgery back in 2003 due to coronary artery disease. He also had an operation back in 2019 to fix a leaky heart valve.
Rossington survived the tragic 1977 plane crash that killed LYNYRD SKYNYRD singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines. A year prior, Rossington had survived a car accident when his vehicle hit an oak tree.
While initially part of the band from 1964-1977, Rossington returned for the band’s reunion in 1987 and played with the band from 1991 until his death, appearing on all of the group’s albums.
On top of playing with LYNYRD SKYNYRD, the guitarist also performed as part of the ROSSINGTON COLLINS BAND with fellow SKYNYRD member Allen Collins. The pair recorded a couple of albums between the initial LYNYRD SKYNYRD split and the band’s 1987 reunion. He also recorded two albums with his wife Dale Krantz-Rossington under the name THE ROSSINGTON BAND.
Five years ago, Rossington told the Tampa Bay Times his doctors had urged him for years to quit touring. “I’ve had heart attacks on stage,” he said. “That’s why I was calling it a farewell tour. I don’t know if I’ll be here [much longer]. I don’t want to just say, ‘Well, we’re never going to end,’ because I don’t want to die and then it end that way — which is a heavy thing to talk about, but I have to.”
Rossington, who has had to miss numerous LYNYRD SKYNYRD shows as of late, has had guitarist Damon Johnson filling in for him. Gary admitted that he went through “a lot of different emotions” watching LYNYRD SKYNYRD from the side of the stage. “The notes are the same, and the songs are the same. It sounds good to me. It sounds like our band,” he explained. “I look out and don’t see the original band — it’s strange. And then I look out and see a replacement for me, which is strange. Just hearing the songs without me playing on ’em live is very strange.”
Everyone at Loaded Radio extends their sincerest condolnces to his family and loved ones.