Gary Rossington, Last Surviving Original Member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Dies at 71 

The only surviving founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, passed away on Sunday, almost four months before the group was supposed to embark on its upcoming tour. The 71-year-old musician had struggled with health concerns for a number of years. 

On March 4, 2023, the music industry lost a legend as Gary Rossington, the last surviving original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, passed away at the age of 71. Rossington was not only a founding member of the iconic southern rock band but also played a pivotal role in shaping the sound and direction of the group.

Born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1951, Rossington picked up the guitar at an early age and quickly showed a natural talent for the instrument. In the mid-1960s, he formed his first band with schoolmates Ronnie Van Zant and Allen Collins. The group would eventually evolve into Lynyrd Skynyrd, which was named after their high school gym teacher Leonard Skinner, who had a strict policy against long hair.

In the early days of the band, Rossington played lead guitar and was one of the primary songwriters, along with Van Zant and Collins. Together, they crafted some of the most memorable and enduring songs of the southern rock genre, including “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Free Bird,” and “Simple Man.”

Rossington’s playing was characterized by his soulful, bluesy style and his ability to weave intricate and melodic solos into the band’s music. His guitar work was an essential part of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s signature sound, which blended elements of rock, country, and blues into a unique and influential sound.

In addition to his musical contributions, Rossington was also known for his dedication to the band and his loyalty to his fellow members. He weathered the ups and downs of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s tumultuous career, which included tragedies such as the deaths of Van Zant, Collins, and several other band members in a 1977 plane crash. Rossington himself survived the crash but suffered serious injuries.

Despite the loss of so many of his friends and bandmates, Rossington remained committed to carrying on the Lynyrd Skynyrd legacy. He continued to perform and record with the band, and in 1987, he played a key role in the band’s reunion tour, which brought together surviving members and paid tribute to those who had passed away.

Over the years, Rossington’s contributions to Lynyrd Skynyrd were recognized by fans and critics alike. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, along with the rest of the original band members. In 2018, a biopic about the band called “Lynyrd Skynyrd: If I Leave Here Tomorrow” was released, which featured interviews with Rossington and other surviving members.

In the wake of Rossington’s passing, the music world has been flooded with tributes and remembrances of his life and career. Many musicians and fans have noted the significant impact that Lynyrd Skynyrd and Rossington’s guitar playing had on their own lives and musical careers. Despite the sadness of his passing, Rossington’s legacy and impact will continue to be felt for generations to come. His contributions to Lynyrd Skynyrd and southern rock music as a whole are immeasurable, and his influence will continue to inspire and shape musicians for years to come.  

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