Gary Rossington, the last surviving original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd who also helped found the group, died Sunday at the age of 71.
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 music ensemble is best known for its two songs Sweet Home Alabama and Free Bird.
“Gary is now with his brothers and his Skynyrd family in paradise and plays well, as he always does,” the group described on Facebook.
Lynyrd Skynyrd did not specify the cause of death. Rossington was suffering from heart problems and in 2021 he underwent emergency heart surgery, the group reported at the time.
Born in Florida in 1951, Rossington founded the band in 1964 with drummer Bob Burns and bassist Larry Junstrom.
His guitar solo in Free Bird, a song that lasts 10 minutes, is considered one of the most important in rock history.
The interpreter survived several serious accidents in the 70s, including a car crash in 1973 and the infamous plane crash of 1977, in which three members of the group lost their lives.
The band broke up after singer Ronnie van Zant, guitarist/singer Steve Gaines, and showgirl Cassie Gaines were killed 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 begin a 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.