Gary Rossington, Lynyrd Skynyrd's Last Surviving Original Member, Dead at 71

Gary Rossington, one of Lynyrd Skynyrd's original guitarists and the last surviving original member, has died. The band revealed Rossington's passing on Facebook. Rossington was 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's statement reads. "Gary is now with his Skynyrd brothers and family in heaven and playing it pretty, like he always does."

Rossington represents the end of the original version of Lynyrd Skynyrd and was the final survivor of the 1977 plane crash that took the lives of four members, including frontman Ronnie Van Zant. Rossington's injuries in the crash kept him away from the band for a decade, breaking his legs, arms, ankles, and his pelvis in the tragic incident. He would rejoin the band in 1987 when the group reformed behind Johnny Van Zant, the brother of the late Ronnie Van Zant. He remained with the band since, despite undergoing emergency heart surgery in 2021.

Skynyrd was prepping to head out on tour soon, teaming with ZZ Top starting in June. No cause of death has been shared yet.

It is with our deepest sympathy and sadness that we have to advise, that we lost our brother, friend, family member,...

Posted by Lynyrd Skynyrd on Sunday, March 5, 2023

Aside from the band, fellow alum Artimus Pyle shared a statement on Facebook mourning the loss of Rossington. "Friends we are absolutely devastated and heartbroken over the news of Gary Rossington's passing today," the statement reads. "Artimus and Gary were friends, brothers and survivors and Artimus loved him dearly...Gary was one of the most, if not yhe most, underrated guitarists ever. The man could play! He was also an incredible songwriter and came up with many iconic riffs including the riff that inspired Ed King to create the opening riff to Sweet Home Alabama."

Lynyrd Skynyrd was the top southern rock group of the 1970s, finding immediate success with their debut album, (Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd), and featured staples like "Gimme Three Steps," "Tuesday's Gone," and the infamous and iconic "Free Bird." The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.