Gary Rossington, lead guitarist and the last surviving founding member of rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd, has died, the band says. He was 71.
“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,” the band wrote on its official Facebook page March 5.
“Gary is now with his Skynyrd brothers and family in heaven and playing it pretty, like he always does. Please keep (wife) Dale, (daughters) Mary, Annie and the entire Rossington family in your prayers and respect the family’s privacy at this difficult time,” the band concluded.
No cause of death was given.
Rossington survived the infamous 1977 plane crash that claimed the lives of fellow members Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines, as well as Gaines’ sister and backup singer, Cassie Gaines. The band’s assistant road manager and two pilots on board also died.
Rossington’s death was mourned by many in the music community on Twitter.
“I just learned that my dear friend, Gary Rossington passed away today,” Travis Tritt wrote. “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.”
"GOD BLESS GARY ROSSINGTON," guitarist Zakk Wylde wrote.
“Truly saddened today to learn that we lost the great Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd,” DJ and former MTV VJ Matt Pinfield wrote. “He was not only an exceptional guitarist and songwriter, but he was one of the coolest, kindest people I have had the pleasure to meet over the years.”
“RIP Gary,” Journey guitarist Neal Schon wrote.
Lynyrd Skynyrd is scheduled to perform March 12 in Plant City, Florida, and will also put on concerts at a few more events before they kick off a tour with ZZ Top in July.
“We’re still standing, still keeping the music going,” Rossington is quoted as saying on the band’s website. “We wanted to do the guys who aren’t with us any more proud — and keep the name proud, too.”