Guitarist Gary Rossington, the last founding member of the American rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, died on Sunday at the age of 71, the group announced. The southern rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd is best known for its two songs “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Free Bird”.
“Gary is now with his brothers and Skynyrd family in paradise and plays well, as he always does,” the group wrote on Facebook. Lynyrd Skynyrd did not specify the cause of death. Rossington was afflicted with heart problems and in 2021 he underwent emergency heart surgery, the group reported at the time.
Born in Florida (Southeast United States) in 1951, Rossington founded Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1964 with drummer Bob Burns and bassist Larry Junstrom. His guitar solo on “Free Bird,” a song that lasts 10 minutes, is considered one of the most important in rock history.
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The guitarist survived several serious accidents in the 1970s, including a car crash in 1973 and the infamous 1977 plane crash that killed three members of the group. The band broke up after the death of singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist/singer Steve Gaines, and showgirl Cassie Gaines in that tragedy. But it got back together in 1987 with new members, including Van Zant’s little brother Johnny as singer.
Rossington was the only original member still in the group, which is scheduled to tour in July. Lynyrd Skynyrd is one of the conservative rock groups that performed on the sidelines of the 2016 Republican convention, in which Donald Trump was nominated for the presidency of the United States.
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