Gary Rossington, guitarist and founding member of the American rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, has died aged 71.
Rossington had been grappling with health problems for decades — including a heart attack in 2015 and emergency heart surgery in 2021.
“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 said in a statement.
“Gary is now with his Skynyrd brothers and family in heaven and playing it pretty, like he always does.”
Rossington was born on December 4, 1951, in Jacksonville, Florida, where he grew up alongside future bandmates Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, and Bob Burns.
Rossington played guitar in several local bands before co-founding Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1964. He was a key contributor to the band’s signature sound, which blended Southern rock, blues, and country music. Rossington’s guitar playing was often characterised by his use of the slide guitar, which he used to great effect on songs like “Free Bird” and ”Sweet Home Alabama.”
In addition to his work as a guitarist, Rossington also served as a songwriter for Lynyrd Skynyrd, co-writing several of the band’s biggest hits, including “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Saturday Night Special,” and “That Smell.”
Unfortunately, tragedy struck the band in 1977 when a plane carrying Rossington and his bandmates crashed, killing several members of the group, including lead singer Ronnie Van Zant.
Rossington himself was seriously injured in the crash but eventually recovered and resumed his work with the band when it re-formed in 1987.
Since then, Rossington has continued to perform and record with Lynyrd Skynyrd, and he remains a beloved figure in the World of rock music.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006 as a member of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Originally published at www.news.com.au