Gary Rossington Dies at 71

Gary Rossington was one of the most influential guitarists in the history of rock music. He was best known as the co-founder and sole surviving original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, one of the most iconic bands of the 1970s. Despite facing numerous personal and professional challenges throughout his life, Rossington had remained dedicated to his craft and continues to inspire generations of musicians.

Gary Rossington – Early Life and Career

Gary Robert Rossington was born on December 4, 1951, in Jacksonville, Florida. He grew up in a musical family, with his mother playing piano and his father playing guitar. Rossington started playing guitar at the age of 14 and quickly developed a love for the instrument. He was heavily influenced by the blues and rock and roll music of the time, including the likes of Chuck Berry, B.B. King, and the Rolling Stones.

In the late 1960s, Rossington formed his first band, called The Noble Five, with his high school friends. They played local gigs around Jacksonville and gained a small following. In 1969, Rossington met Ronnie Van Zant, who was singing in a band called My Backyard. The two quickly hit it off and started playing music together. Along with Allen Collins and Bob Burns, they formed Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1970.

Though the founder of the legendary ‘Lynyrd Skynyrd’ is best known for his talent as a guitarist, he was interested in playing the drums as a teenager. Rossington became popular right after the release of ‘Lynyrd Skynyrd’s first album. The album had the hit single ‘Free Bird.’ Starting in the early 1970s, Rossington left a notable legacy in the American musical scene. He continues to play with the reformed ‘Lynyrd Skynyrd’ as its only remaining original member.

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Lynyrd Skynyrd quickly gained a following in the Southern United States with their unique blend of Southern rock, blues, and country music. They released their debut album, “Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd,” in 1973, which included the hit single “Free Bird.” The album was a critical and commercial success, and Lynyrd Skynyrd became one of the most popular bands of the 1970s.

Throughout their career, Lynyrd Skynyrd faced numerous challenges. In 1977, while on tour to promote their album “Street Survivors,” the band’s plane crashed in Mississippi, killing lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and backup singer Cassie Gaines, as well as the pilot and co-pilot. Rossington, along with other band members, survived the crash but suffered serious injuries.

After the crash, Lynyrd Skynyrd disbanded, and Rossington took a break from music. However, in 1987, he and other surviving members of the band re-formed Lynyrd Skynyrd and began touring again. They have since released several albums and continued to tour, with Rossington serving as the band’s lead guitarist and occasional songwriter.

Personal Life and Struggles

Throughout his life, Rossington has faced numerous personal struggles. He has battled drug and alcohol addiction and has been arrested multiple times for drug-related offenses. In 1976, he was involved in a serious car accident that left him with a broken arm and leg. He has also suffered several heart attacks and undergone multiple surgeries.

Despite these challenges, Rossington has remained dedicated to his music. In interviews, he has spoken about the importance of family and how his wife, Dale Krantz-Rossington, has been a constant source of support throughout his life. Krantz-Rossington is also a musician and has played with Lynyrd Skynyrd on occasion.

In a recent interview, he talked about the struggles.

Legacy and Influence of Gary Rossington

Gary Rossington’s legacy as a guitarist and songwriter is undeniable. He has been a driving force behind Lynyrd Skynyrd’s success and has inspired countless musicians with his unique style and sound. His guitar work on songs like “Free Bird” and “Sweet Home Alabama” is instantly recognizable and has become a staple of classic rock radio.

Rossington has also been recognized for his contributions to the music industry. In 2006, Lynyrd Skynryd was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


Gary Rossington
Gary Rossington


Leave a Comment