The guitarist and songwriter was one of the survivors of the tragic 1977 plane crash that claimed the lives of much of the band.
guitarist and composer Gary Rossingtonthe last original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, who survived the 1977 plane crash and played with the band until this year, died Sunday. He was 71 years old.
“It is with our deepest condolences and sadness that we have to report that today we have lost our brother, friend, family member, songwriter and guitarist, Gary Rossington,” the band wrote on their official Facebook page. “Gary is now with his Skynyrd brothers and family in heaven and plays nice, like you always did.”.
Rossington was seriously injured in the 1977 plane crash that killed four members of the legendary southern rock band, including frontman Ronnie Van Zant. Rossington broke both legs, arms and ankles, and his pelvis. He rejoined the band when Van Zant’s brother, Johnny, reformed the group in 1987, and the band had been recording and touring ever since.
Rossington, who co-wrote many of the band’s best-known songs, including “Free Bird”, underwent emergency heart surgery in 2021, but recovered and rejoined the band. The news of his death comes as the band was preparing to go on a 22-city North American tour with ZZ Top starting in June.
Lynyrd Skynyrd was one of the most popular southern rock bands. He placed three more studio albums in the Billboard Top 20 from 1974 to 1976 with Second Helping, Nuthin’ Fancy and Gimme Back My Bullets. Their 1974 second set featured a surprise top 10 pop single on “Sweet Home Alabama”. Considered one of the “answer records” of rock’s greatest, it was inspired by the early ’70s songs “Southern Man” and “Alabama” by Neil Young.
Later, in 1976, Lynyrd Skynyrd released the double LP live One More from the Roadwhich hit Billboard’s Top 10 and featured the legendary version of “Free Bird” which still tops the listener polls of classic rock stations in the United States.
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