Lynyrd Skynyrd founding member Gary Rossington dead at 71


Gary Rossington, a founding member and guitarist of the legendary Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, has died. He was 71 years old.

“It is with our deepest sympathies and sadness that we have to advise that today we have lost our brother, friend, family member, songwriter and guitarist Gary Rossington,” the band said. Posted on Facebook.

The band announced his death on Sunday and no cause has been released.

“Gary is now in heaven with his Skynyrd brothers and family playing it beautiful, as he always does,” the band told fans to keep Rossington’s family in their prayers.

He was the last surviving original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd and is survived by his wife, Dale Krantz, and two daughters.

Rossington during a Leonard Skynyrd concert at The Bottom Line on April 11, 1976 in New York City.
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Rossington was born on December 4, 1951 in Jacksonville, Fla. was born in, and was raised by a single mother after the death of her father after her birth.

In 1964, Rossington met drummer Bob Burns and bassist Larry Junstorm, and the trio hit it off over their love of music and baseball.

That same year, during a Little League baseball game, singer Ronnie Van Zant hit a line drive into Burns’ shoulder, and the initial spark of the world-famous band was born, Rolling Stone reported.

Rossington, Burns, Van Zant, and guitarist Alan Collins called on Burns’ Jacksonville home that afternoon to listen to the Rolling Stones’ song “Time Is On My Side.”

Backstage at an outdoor concert in California in October, 1976.
Left to right, Lynyrd Skynyrd band members Leon Wilkeson, Billy Powell, Gary Rossington, Ronnie Van Zant and Alan Collins backstage at an outdoor concert in October 1976 in California.
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The boys adopted the band name Lynyrd Skynyrd—as a nod to the name of a coach at Rossington’s high school and the 1963 novelty hit “Hello Mudah, Hello Faduh (A Letter from Camp) ).”

In 1973, the band released their debut album “Pronounced ‘Leigh-‘Nerd ‘Skin-‘Nerd”, which included the now iconic songs “Simple Man,” “Tuesday Gone” and their best-known song “Free Bird”. was

The rocker, whose remarkable guitar slide helped make the band’s song “Free Bird” an all-time fan favorite, cheated death on more than one occasion, Rolling Stone reported.

Lynyrd Skynyrd
Van Zant and Gary Rossington performing with Lynyrd Skynyrd at The Oakland Coliseum in 1976.
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In 1976, Rossington survived a catastrophic car wreck where he crashed his Ford Torino into a tree. The crash inspired Lynyrd Skynyrd’s song “The Smell”. Just one year later, in 1977, he survived a tragic plane crash in Mississippi that killed lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and backing singer Casey Gaines.

Rossington broke two of his arms and a leg and punctured his stomach and liver in the infamous plane crash.

“It was a devastating thing,” he said in a 2006 interview with Rolling Stone. “You can’t be real casual about it and not have feelings about it.”

Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd performs at Fox & Friends Summer Concert Series on June 22, 2018 in New York City.
Rossington performs with Lynyrd Skynyrd at the Fox & Friends Summer Concert Series on June 22, 2018 in New York City.
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A decade after the Crash, Rossington would rejoin the band after Van Zant’s brother, Johnny Van Zant, reformed the group.

In 2003, the guitarist underwent quintuple bypass surgery, and in 2015 suffered a heart attack that led to multiple heart surgeries. Due to which he had to leave the band in July 2021.

Despite Lynyrd Skynyrd being famously plagued by tragedy in the eyes of many fans, Rossington never considered the band to be a tragic entity, with many portraying them as following through all the turmoil.

“I don’t think of it as a tragedy — I think of it as life,” he told Rolling Stone at the group’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2006.

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