Gary Rossington, Lynyrd Skynyrd's Last Founding Member, Has Died at 71


Mar. 6 2023, Published 9:47 a.m. ET

Gary Rossington
Source: Getty Images

Rickey Medlocke (left) and Gary Rossington (right) of Lynyrd Skynyrd in 2019

Lynyrd Skynyrd fans are in mourning following the news that Gary Rossington, the band's last living founding member, has died at the age of 71.

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The news of Gary's death was posted on the band's Facebook page, leading to an outpouring of condolences as well as plenty of curious fans who wondered what Gary's actual cause of death was. Here's what we know.

What was Gary Rossington's cause of death?

In their Facebook post, the band offered few details on how Gary died.

"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 post read. "Gary is now with his Skynyrd brothers and family in heaven and playing it pretty like he always does."

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Lynyrd Skynyrd
Source: Getty Images

(l-r) Mark Matejka, Rickey Medlocke, Gary Rossington, and Keith Christopher of Lynyrd Skynyrd in 2018

The post didn't include any reference to a cause of death, so that's still unknown at this time. Gary has had heart issues in the past, though, and had heart surgery in 2021, according to another post on the band's Facebook page at the time.

Gary was one of the three original members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, which was first formed in 1964 when he was still a young teenager.

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Gary was instrumental to a number of the band's biggest songs.

Gary's distinctive slide guitar was key to the success of "Free Bird," and he co-wrote "Sweet Home Alabama," which means he was a key element in both of the band's most enduring hits.

He was also one of the survivors of a 1977 plane crash that killed several of his bandmates and left him and the rest of the band severely wounded. That crash was the end of the first era of Lynyrd Skynyrd, although various versions of the group have continued to tour until quite recently.

News of Gary's death led to plenty of remembrances for him online, including from longtime fans.

"Gary Rossington has left. One of the greatest and pioneer of a style and sound that is timeless and forever cherished. RIP Gary, play it pretty," actor Titus Welliver wrote in a post on Twitter.

"RIP Gary Rossington," another person simply added.

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