Gary Rossington, the last remaining original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, has died of unspecified causes at the age of 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,” the band wrote in an official statement. “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 had not been performing with Lynyrd Skynyrd lately. In late February, the band noted that Rossington would “come to shows for guest appearances as he is feeling well and able.”
In July 2021, Rossington underwent emergency heart surgery, the band confirmed. He had previously undergone quintuple bypass surgery in 2003 and suffered a heart attack in 2015, according to Rolling Stone.
Born on Dec. 4, 1951, Rossington helped form the band in the 1960s with Ronnie Van Zant and Bob Burns, who met while playing on opposing baseball teams in Jacksonville, Florida as teenagers.
Lynyrd Skynyrd disbanded for 10 years after a 1977 plane crash killed Van Zant; fellow band member Steve Gaines; Steve’s sister Cassie Gaines, who was a backup singer; road manager Dean Kilpatrick; and both pilots. Other band members, including Rossington, were seriously injured.
When bassist Larry Junstrom died in 2019, Rossington became the last surviving original member.
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Photo courtsey of Twitter