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Gary Rossington, guitarist and last surviving original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, dies at 71

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Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Stagecoach

Gary Rossington, guitarist for Southern rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd, passed away Sunday at the age of 71, according to an announcement on the band’s Facebook page.

“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 shared. “Gary is now with his Skynyrd brothers and family in heaven and playing it pretty, like he always does.”

The statement added, “Please keep [his wife] Dale, [his daughters] Mary [and] Annie and the entire Rossington family in your prayers and respect the family’s privacy at this difficult time.”

Rossington, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the band in 2005, was the last original member of Skynyrd’s lineup remaining in the group.  He had been the last surviving original member of the band, following the death of Larry Junstrom in 2019.

He played guitar on many of the band’s biggest hits, including “Simple Man,” which he co-wrote with Ronnie Van Zant, as well as “Sweet Home Alabama” — which he also co-wrote — and “Tuesday’s Gone.” He played slide guitar on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s signature “Free Bird.”

Rossington was one of the passengers who survived the October, 20, 1977 Mississippi plane crash that took the lives of Lynyrd Skynyrd members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines and three others, though he broke both arms, legs, wrists, and ankles, in addition to his pelvis. 

Outside of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rossington, along with Skynyrd member Allen Collins, formed the Rossington Collins Band, which released two albums in 1980 and 1981 before disbanding in 1982. He also formed The Rossington Band with his wife Dale Krantz; they released two albums in 1986 and 1988.

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