(2911) Gary Rossington, an original member of GRAMMY Hall of Fame Award-winning, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Lynyrd Skynyrd, died on Sunday, March 5th, 2023 at age 71.
Rossington survived the tragic 1977 plane crash that killed singer Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Steve Gaines, as well as backup vocalist Cassie Gaines (Steve's sister), assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary, and co-pilot John Gray.
The legendary group shared this quote on social media: "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.
"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."
The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006 by Kid Rock, and is known worldwide for their signature hits such as "Sweet Home Alabama", "Simple Man", "That Smell", "Gimme Three Steps" and nine-minute southern rock anthem, "Free Bird".
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Member and former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle shares heartfelt recollection of his brother of the road: "Gary's place in music history is rock solid. He will be missed forever. Fly on fly high, our 'Free Bird' brother."
Other friends and colleagues of Lynyrd Skynyrd have also shared their thoughts on Rossington:
"Gary Rossington had a sound that no other guitar player had. Everyone knows "Free Bird" and his feeling in each note itself helped set Lynyrd Skynyrd apart from all of the other Southern Rock bands. They are still one of my favorite groups to listen to. His sound will live on forever. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends!" - William Lee Golden / The Oak Ridge Boys
"Our hearts go out to our brothers in Lynyrd Skynyrd. Legendary guitarist Gary Rossington has passed." - Joe Bonsall / The Oak Ridge Boys
"Gary Rossington's guitar playing was iconic and defined the band's sound. My thoughts are with his family and fans. There will never be another like him." - Johnny Lee
"Heaven is ringing with twin guitars tonight! I was saddened to hear about the passing of Southern rock guitar legend, Gary Rossington. I spent many hours trying to work up his and Steve Gaines' guitar parts and I'm still trying to get them right. Thank you for the incredible music, Sir! Now fly free." - Heath Wright / Ricochet
"I wish I had a nickel for every time I was in a club and heard someone in the crowd yell out " Free Bird" to the band. Forty-nine years later and this southern rock anthem lives on. Gary Rossington will forever be known as the guitarist who gave this song wings. Rock on, Gary, and rock in peace." - Tim Atwood
"Gary Rossington was one of the greats. His style of guitar playing will forever live on in all of our hearts as soon as we hear songs by Lynyrd Skynyrd. There will never be another like him. May he rest in peace." - Makenzie Phipps
"Saddened to hear of the passing of legendary guitarist, Gary Rossington. One of the last original members of Lynyrd Skynyrd. We've all played their songs throughout our lives and they are one of the most iconic bands of all time. Rest easy Gary. Train roll on." - JD Shelburne
"I'm sorry to hear of Gary Rossington's passing. His guitar work on "Simple Man" and "Free Bird" will transcend time. His tones paved the path for generations of guitarists. My condolences to his family." - Levi Riggs
"A very sad loss for southern rock and music in general, Gary Rossington, you will be missed, my friend." - Joey Canyon / Canyon Star TV