Gary Rossington was an American musician and songwriter. He was one of the original founding members of the boy band Lynyrd Skynyrd. He was also the longest-serving original member of the band.
Gary played and led guitar for the band, and by 2009, he was the last remaining original member. He was also the last surviving original member. However, the original legacy of Lynyrd Skynyrd came to an end with Gray’s death on March 5th.
The Musical Life Of Rossington
Gary was born on December 4, 1951, in Jacksonville, Florida. He grew up being fascinated by baseball. It was his dream to play for New York Yankees one day. However, listening to Rolling Stones in his teen years diverted his goals.
Rossington recalls being a good ball player and the same love for baseball led to the formation of Lynyrd Skynyrd in the summer of 1964. He, Ronnie Van Zant, and Bob Burns became acquainted while playing on rival Jacksonville baseball teams and the trio decided to jam together one afternoon after Burns was injured by a ball hit by Van Zant.
They played Rolling Stones’ then-trending “Time Is on My Side” in Burns’ parents’ carport. They set up their instruments and jammed. After liking what they played, they immediately decided to form a band.
The initial name for the band was decided to be The Noble Five (with the additions of guitarist Allen Collins and bassist Larry Junstrom). Later on, they changed it to The One Percent before eventually settling on the name Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1969.
Growing up in a single-parent household, Gary had only ever had his mother. He lacked a father figure in his life until Van Zant. He shares how Van Zant, who was three years his senior, taught him and his bandmates how to drive a car, as well as introducing them to “all that stuff you learn when you’re 14, 15, 16“.
Their bond was close enough that when Gary was suspended from high school for keeping long hair, Lacy Van Zant (the patriarch of the Van Zant family), visited the principal to plead Gary’s case.
He explained to the assistant principal that Rossington’s father, who died shortly after Rossington was born, had died in the Army and that Rossington’s mother needed the money Rossington made playing in his band. Although if he succeeded or failed is not known.
Soon enough, Gary dropped out of high school to focus on Lynyrd Skynyrd full-time.
Rossington’s instrument of choice was a 1959 Gibson Les Paul which he had purchased from a woman whose boyfriend had left her and left behind his guitar. He named it “Berniece” in honor of his mother (whom he was extremely close to after the death of his father).
Lynyrd Skynyrd was a definite success. The band was well-received by the fans and there was no looking back for them. They rose to fame, created popular albums, and even went on tours.
Unfortunately, several members of the band passed away in a plane crash on October 20, 1977. The band lost Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines, and three others. Gary himself was on the flight, but he survived somehow along with 19 others.
He was informed of his bandmates’ demise by his mother a few days later in the hospital. Despite breaking both arms, legs, wrists, and ankles, as well as his pelvis, Rossington recovered from his injuries and played on stage again (with steel rods in his right arm and right leg).
Though in time Rossington fully recovered from the severe injuries sustained in the crash, he battled serious drug addiction throughout the next several years, largely the result of his heavy dependence on pain medication taken during his recovery from the plane crash.
He kept playing for Lynyrd Skynyrd until his death. However, he created two other bands as well.
In the later years of his life, Gary faced several health complications due to his heart conditions.
Rossington And His Empire
Gary Rossington led a successful career, and gained immense fame. But, with immense fame also comes immense money.
Fans are curious of what was Gary’s net worth.
According to sources, his total net worth is estimated to be aroun $40 million. That sure is a hefty amount.
Rossington And His Battle With His Heart
Gary endured heart problems for decades, including quintuple bypass surgery in 2003, a serious heart attack in 2015, the implantation of a pacemaker, a heart valve replacement in 2019, and, most recently, emergency heart surgery in June 2021, which forced him from the band’s “Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour.”
He underwent one more emergency surgery in July 2021.
Rossington passed away on 5th march, 2023. The news was confirmed by the band on their official Facebook page. The statement went like this:
“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.”
It was further added:
“Please keep Dale, Mary, Annie, and the entire Rossington family in your prayers and respect the family’s privacy at this difficult time.”
No cause of death was mentioned in the official statement. However, it can be speculated that it must be his depleting heart condition that caused his death.
Either way, Gary left behind several fans, and his music will forever remind us of him and his love for music.
Gary Rossington passed away at the age of 71 on March 5th, 2023. He was a famous musician of the band Lynyrd Skynyrd. Although no specific cause of death is mentioned, we speculate it must be his decades-long illness.
He is survived by his wife Dale Krantz-Rossington (m.1982), and their two daughters, Mary and Annie.
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