One member of Lynyrd Skynyrd is currently on the mend after an emergency heart surgery. On Friday, the band revealed that Gary Rossington, the last living original member of the group, underwent the sudden procedure and was now "home resting and recovering" with the help of his family.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Gary Rossington as he recovers from emergency heart surgery," the band shared on its Facebook page. "Gary is home resting and recovering with his family at home. He wants everyone to know he is doing good and expects a full recovery."
Lynyrd Skynyrd will not alter its tour dates in the wake of Rossington's medical event. The group, fronted by Johnny Van Zant, will continue in Rossington's absence, which was apparently the guitarist's wish. "After this past year, the country being shut down and everything we have all been thru, The Rossington's encouraged the band to go perform in his absence. Music is a powerful healer! We all felt playing the shows and bringing the music to y'all was a better option than cancelling the performances."
The band's statement concluded with well wishes to Rossington, writing, "We wish Gary a speedy recovery and we will see the Skynyrd Nation very soon! Please do us a favor and say some prayers for the Rossington family and if you would like to leave him a (positive) message please do! He will look forward to reading them!"
Rossington has been with the iconic Southern rock band since its inception. He's played on all the band's releases, including 1973's (Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd) and 1974's Second Helping. He's played on beloved songs, such as "Simple Man" and "Free Bird." He was one of the members onboard the band's chartered plan on October 20, 1977, when it crashed in Amite County, Mississippi. Frontman Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist/vocalist Steve Gaines and background vocalist Cassie Gaines died in the crash. The group's assistant road manager, Dean Kilpatrick, also died in the accident, as well as and the pilot and co-pilot, Walter McCreary and William Gray.
As Ultimate Classic Rock points out, this is not the first time Rossington has dealt with heart issues. He suffered a heart attack in 2015, leading to a 2016 surgery. He then had to have a heart valve repaired in 2019. In 2018, the musician confessed to the Tampa Bay Times that he'd "had heart attacks on stage a lot" and doctors had told him to quit touring. However, Rossington had carried on, not only being the only original Lynyrd Skynyrd member in the group but also the only founder alive after bassist Larry Junstrom's death in October 2019.