Guitarist Gary Rossington, the last remaining member of the former American rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, died yesterday, the band announced. He was 71 years old.
Rossington is a founding member of the Southern rock band best known for the 1974 song “Sweet Home Alabama.” that we lost. guitarist, Gary Rossington, today,” the group wrote on Facebook.
“Gary is now with his Skynyrd brothers and family in heaven and he’s playing well, as he always does,” he added. The team did not announce a cause of death but Rossington had suffered multiple heart problems, including emergency heart surgery in 2021, according to a statement from the team at the time.
Rossington was born in 1951 in the state of South Florida, opening the first line of Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1964 with drummer Bob Burns and bassist Larry Junstrom. He contributed unique slide guitar solos that helped make the 1973 single “Free Bird” a lasting nearly 10 minutes.
The musician survived several brutal accidents in the 1970s, including a major car accident in 1976 and a 1977 plane crash that killed three members of the band. The group broke up when singer Ronnie Van Zant, singer Steve Gaines and vocalist Cassie Gaines died in the accident, but reformed in 1987 with new members, including Van Zant’s brother Little, Johnny and the voice.
Rossington was the only original still in the group, which continued to do so, with festival dates set for the month. The alt-right was one of the groups that took to the stage at the 2016 Republican convention.