Image courtesy of SiriusXM

Gary Rossington, lead guitarist and last remaining founding member of the influential American rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, has died at the age of 71. The band’s official Facebook page made the news of his death public without confirming the cause or the location. Tributes and condolences have poured in on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and more. 

For the uninitiated, all the other members of the original Lynyrd Skynyrd band died in a plane crash in 1977. The iconic guitarist rebuilt the group with new members to continue their musical legacy. His death marks the end of an era in classic Southern rock, as his guitar practically defined the band’s signature sound. 

Fans and artists mourn as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s lead guitarist Gary Rossington passes away, likely cause of death explored 

While the cause of his death is yet to be officially revealed, fans of Lynyrd Skynyrd might be familiar with Gary Rossington’s recurring heart problems. The iconic guitarist had suffered a heart attack in October 2015, and also underwent emergency heart surgery in April 2021.

Following the plane crash, Gary Rossington became heavily dependent on pain medication, which resulted in a serious drug addiction problem. He fought past tragedy and overcame addiction to continue playing the guitar for Lynyrd Skynyrd with new members.

Veteran members of the music community have shared their condolences for Rossington’s death on social media. Since he was the last man standing after bassist Larry Junstrom’s death in 2019, classic rock fans are gutted over the original Lynyrd Skynyrd’s end.

Artists from the music fraternity shared their memories of Gary Rossington and how his guitar playing was influential in shaping their individual careers.

Gary Rossington death Lynyrd Skynyrd
Comments from Gary Rossington’s obituary post on Facebook


How Gary Rossington rebuilt Lynyrd Skynyrd after the plane crash

Gary Rossington formed Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1964 along with fellow guitarist Allen Collins and lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant. In 1977, a plane crash claimed the lives of three band members, including Van Zant. 

The guitarist himself was severely injured in the crash and required months of physical therapy to recover. In the years that followed, Lynyrd Skynyrd would disband and reunite multiple times, with Rossington serving as a constant presence and guiding force.

Gary had also worked on side projects with other bands that he started such as The Rossington Band and The Rossington Collins Band.

Gary Rossington’s contribution as a guitarist in Lynyrd Skynyrd

One of Gary Rossington’s most iconic contributions to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s sound is his use of the Gibson Les Paul guitar. Known for its thick, warm tone, the guitar became the perfect vehicle for Rossington’s bluesy, soulful playing style. 

Lynyrd Skynyrd Gary Rossington guitarist cause of death
July 5, 1975 – Atlanta, GA: Guitarist Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd performs (Photo by Tom Hill/WireImage)

Rossington’s solos are still a masterclass in Blues-based rock guitar playing. From the iconic frenzied solo in Free Bird to the soulful tune of Simple Man, he added depth and emotion to the band’s powerful lyrics.

He was also a key songwriter, contributing to some of the band’s most beloved tracks, including Tuesday’s Gone, Sweet Home Alabama, and That Smell.

When it comes to Southern rock, few bands have had the impact and longevity of Lynyrd Skynyrd. And at the heart of this band’s success was the late guitarist Gary Rossington, whose riffs and solos became synonymous with the genre.

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SOURCES: Lynyrd Skynyrd – Facebook