Lynyrd Skynyrd's last original member, Gary Rossington, dies at 71

'Gary is now with his Skynyrd brothers and family in heaven and playing it pretty, like he always does'
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd Photo credit Roy Rochlin/Getty Images
By , Audacy

The last founding member of Southern Rock icons Lynyrd Skynyrd -- songwriter, and famed "Free Bird" slide-guitarist Gary Rossington -- has passed at the age of 71.

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The passing of Rossington, who survived the infamous Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash in 1977 that tragically took the lives of a number of band and crew members, was announced via a note from the band on Sunday, March 5.

In a post on social media, the group shared, "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."

The band's message adds, "Please keep Dale, Mary, Annie and the entire Rossington family in your prayers and respect the family’s privacy at this difficult time."

While no cause of death has been given for the Jacksonville, Florida native, Rossington told Rolling Stone in 2022, “I don’t get enough oxygen in my blood to keep up and keep going like normal," adding that his playing had not suffered at all. "It’s just the travel," he revealed. "It’s so hard on me, especially when you got heart trouble. It’s just really hard traveling and getting by with that stuff."

Lynyrd Skynyrd's longest-tenured member is currently singer Johnny Van Zant, who replaced his late brother Ronnie Van Zant in 1987 following the group's 10-year hiatus.

Browse and follow more of Audacy's all-new stations like Classic 70s80s GuitarRock N’ RoadFreedom RockThe CanyonArena Rock, Wake Up and Rock, and The Roots of Rock for those who crave the early days.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images