American musician and guitarist Gary Robert Rossington has passed away at the age of 71.
Rossington was best known for being the longest-serving member of the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd and the band’s last surviving member of the original crew.
“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 announced in a statement.
Paying a tribute to the lead and rhythm guitarist, the team added: “Gary is now with his Skynyrd brothers and family in heaven and playing it pretty, like he always does.
“Please keep Dale, Mary, Annie and the entire Rossington family in your prayers and respect the family’s privacy at this difficult time.”
According to the band’s bio page, Rossington met with Bob Burns and Ronnie Van Zant in 1964 when the trio played basketball in rival teams. Following the Jacksonville basketball match, the three teenagers held an “impromptu afternoon jam session” that inspired them to team up and form a band of their own.
“Before long, guitarist Allen Collins and bassist Larry Junstrom were added to the mix, and the band began entertaining Jacksonville audiences – first as My Backyard, then as The Noble Five, then as The One Percent, before finally arriving on the name Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1969,” the biography reads.
In the following years, the band released dozens of hit songs – including the likes of Freebird, Sweet Home Alabama, Simple Man, What’s Your Name, That Smell – and racked up over 30 million album sales across the globe.
“After five decades and more than 60 albums, the musical powerhouse continues to tour – delighting crowds around the world with their iconic sound.
2023 sees them teaming with fellow southern legends ZZ Top for the ‘Sharp Dressed Simple Man Tour’ as well as playing several stand-alone concerts for their enthusiastic and generational fan base,” the bio page adds.
“As founding member Gary Rossington says, ‘We’re still standing, Still keeping the music going. We wanted to do the guys who aren’t with us any more proud – and keep the name proud, too.’”
Rossington is survived by wife Dale Krantz-Rollington and their two daughters.
Our thoughts are with Gary’s family, friends, and bandmates during this challenging time.