Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington dies at 71

Musician Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd performs during KAABOO Texas at the AT&T Stadium on May 11, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by SUZANNE CORDEIRO / AFP) (Photo credit should read SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP via Getty Images)

Guitarist Gary Rossington of the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd died Sunday at age 71, the band announced on their Facebook page. 

Rossington was the last surviving member of the original band.

Representatives in the band did not identify the cause of death.

"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 said in a statement. "Please keep Dale, Mary, Annie and the entire Rossington family in your prayers and respect the family’s privacy at this difficult time."

Some of Lynyrd Skynyrd's most famous songs include "Sweet Home Alabama," "Free Bird," and "Simple Man." 

"Sweet Home Alabama" was a top-charting song for the band, which was released in 1974 on their "Second Helping" album. 

The band wrote songs spanning blues, country, and rock.

Skynyrd was founded in the summer of 1964 when Ronnie Van Zant, Bob Burns, and Gary Rossington were teenagers in Jacksonville, Florida, the band said on their website.

The three had an impromptu jam session which inspired the creation of a band.

FOX News said Rossington was one of the passengers that survived a plane crash that killed the Lynyrd Skynyrd's lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist and vocalist Steve and Cassie Gaines, the pilot, co-pilot and their assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick in October 1977.

It wasn't the only time Rossington beat death. The Associated Press reported he survived a car accident in 1976 after he drove into a tree which inspired the band's song "That Smell."

Lynyrd Skynyrd were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2006.

FOX News reported Rossington had a history of heart issues and had surgery following a heart attack in 2015. 

Artist Travis Tritt, who performed with Rossington, paid tribute to his friend on his Twitter page.

The estate of the late singer Charlie Daniels released a statement on Rossington's death.

"'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," said the estate.


OAKLAND, CA - JULY 2: Steve Gaines, Ronnie Van Zant, Gary Rossington and Allen Collins are performing with ' Lynyrd Skynyrd' at the Day on the Green at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, CA. on July 2, 1977, (Photo by Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/

Lynyrd Skynyrd was touring in 2023 with rock band ZZ Top for their "Sharp Dressed Simple Man Tour" before Rossington's death. It's unknown if they will continue at this time.