The band issued a statement, which reads: “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.”
As a guitarist, Gary Rossington will probably be best remembered for his slide guitar work on Skynyrd’s signature tune, “Free Bird” — and as a songwriter, he left his mark co-writing such Southern rock standards as “Sweet Home Alabama,” “What’s Your Name?,” “Gimme Back My Bullets,” “I Ain’t The One,” and “Simple Man,” among others.
Gary Rossington broke both arms, both legs, both wrists, both ankles and his pelvis in the 1977 plane crash that took the lives of his Lynyrd Skynyrd bandmates — lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and his sister, backup singer Cassie Gaines, Skynyrd manager Dean Kilpatrick, as well as the plane’s two pilots Walter McCreary and William Gray.
Following the crash, in 1979, Rossington formed Rossington Collins Band with surviving Skynyrd members Allen Collins, Leon Wilkeson, and Billy Powell. Lynyrd Skynyrd reunited in 1987 with Ronnie Van Zant’s youngest brother Johnny Van Zant handing frontman duties.