Lynyrd Skynyrd's Gary Rossington dies

Gary Rossington, the last surviving original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, has died.

Members of the group, known for hits such as Sweet Home Alabama and Free Bird, announced on Facebook on Sunday that the guitarist and songwriter had passed away aged 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," they wrote. "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."

No cause of death was immediately given. However, Rossington has dealt with health issues over the past two decades. He underwent heart bypass surgery in 2003 and emergency heart surgery in 2021.

Despite his health concerns, Rossington still appeared at some of Lynyrd Skynyrd's shows last year, although sometimes he would only play for the second half of the gig. The band recently confirmed that he would be making "guest appearances" on their upcoming co-headlining tour with ZZ Top this summer.

Rossington formed the band, then known as My Backyard, with Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, Larry Junstrom and Bob Burns in 1964. They changed their name to Lynyrd Skynyrd before releasing their self-titled debut album in 1973. They released four more albums before the 1977 plane crash which killed three members, including Van Zant, and badly injured Rossington.

The tragedy abruptly halted Lynyrd Skynyrd's career until Van Zant's brother Johnny reformed the band ten years later.

In those intervening years, Rossington and Collins formed the Rossington-Collins Band, which featured his future wife Dale Krantz. After splitting with Collins, the guitarist formed the Rossington Band with Dale Krantz-Rossington before rejoining the new Lynyrd Skynyrd line-up.

Rossington, the only member to appear on all of the band's albums, is survived by Krantz-Rossington and their two daughters.