For those of us that grew up in the greatest era of original music, we have lost another great one.
Gary Rossington, who was the last surviving original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, has passed away, reports the New York Times.
Rossington was 71 years old.
The band's spokesperson confirmed the death of Rossington with Fox News Digital, stating, "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."
Rossington has been having health issues for most of the last decade.
I just learned that my dear friend, Gary Rossington passed away today. I’m heartbroken! Gary was not only a friend, but a collaborator that wrote songs with me and played guitar with me in studio recordings and onstage so many times. My heart goes out to Dale and the girls. RIP🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/BuTEIdDaR2
— Travis Tritt (@Travistritt) March 6, 2023
His heart issues led up to a heart attack in 2015. Then, in 2019, he had to have an emergency heart procedure.
Prior to his health issues, Rossington had been touched by the hand of God. In 1977, he was on a plane that crashed with lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, siblings Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines, and three others. Rossington survived, but those mentioned above did not.
"It's all right now, keep on singin' loud.
It's all right now, heaven should be proud" - Charlie Daniels 1979
The last of the Free Birds has flown home. RIP Gary Rossington, God Bless the Lynyrd @Skynyrd band. Prayers to Dale and the rest of his family. - CD, Jr. & Hazel Daniels pic.twitter.com/EoYXrLFjAh
— Charlie Daniels (@CharlieDaniels) March 6, 2023
The band was just getting rolling when the accident happened, having only released "Free Bird" four years earlier.
The band would reform about a decade after the accident, with Van Zant's brother, Johnny, taking lead. Rossington, of course, was front and center on guitar when the reboot took place.
This was easily the greatest era of rock 'n roll, and I doubt it will ever be matched for sheer number of supergroups that came out of that era that have anthems that continue to be sung every weekend in clubs and bars around the world… and "Free Bird" is one of them.
Rest in peace, Gary, for you gave us all years of joy.