Lynyrd Skynyrd Will Continue Performing After Gary Rossington’s Death
Lynyrd Skynyrd / Facebook
The music lives on.
Gary Rossington, the last founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, passed away on March 5 at the age of 71. Gary was one of Skynyrd’s guitarists, and was famous for his slide guitar part in “Free Bird,” his lead guitar role in “Tuesday’s Gone,” and so much more.
Gary survived the 1977 plane crash that claimed the lives of Skynyrd’s lead singer Ronnie VanZant, guitarist Steve Gaines, background vocalist Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, Captain Walter McCreary, and First Officer William John Gray.
The band reunited in 1987 with Ronnie’s brother, Johnny Van Zant, at the helm. Gary returned to the group at that time, and remained a member in the decades that followed. Though health problems did keep him from performing in more recent years.
Following Gary’s death, Skynyrd’s wondered about the fate of the band. Even the band members themselves questioned if they would continue without him.
Now, their future has been revealed.
Skynyrd announced on Tuesday (April 4) that the band will continue performing. They came to this agreement after speaking with Gary’s wife, Dale Rossington, as well as the families of Ronnie VanZant and late guitarist Allen Collins, who was another original member of the group.
“After the recent death of original founding member Gary Rossington, the Lynyrd Skynyrd band members and estates have been in discussion on what was next for the group and the music that is celebrating 50 years of generational history in American Rock and Roll,” the band’s statement reads. “The current members, led by Johnny Van Zant, the singer for the past 36 years, was unsure if they would continue following Gary’s untimely passing. After much discussion with the band, the families of Ronnie Van Zant and Allen Collins, and Dale Rossington, the collective has reached unified support, and feel that continuing to perform LIVE, and keeping the music alive, is in the best interest of the fans and everyone involved.”
Dale, who also performs with Skynyrd, said the following about Gary and his wishes for the band:
“Gary was always the first to say how, ‘Skynyrd’s music is bigger than me or any one person.’ Gary made it known at every chance to express how timeless the music was, and it was always his goal to keep the music alive for his brothers because that was always their dream. He spent his entire life trying to carry on that dream for Ronnie, Allen, Steve and all the others over the years. While he was not able to physically be on stage with the current lineup over the last couple years, he supported them in every way. His dream will continue thanks to Johnny, Rickey and the rest of our band mates to continue to carry his legacy and music on for future generations.”
Those who want to see Skynyrd perform will have ample opportunity in the coming months. The band’s November 13, 2022 performance at the Ryman Auditorium was filmed for a production that will be released in theaters in June. This was Gary’s final public performance with the band. The film will also be broadcast on PBS in August.
Additionally, the band is embarking on their first co-headlining tour with ZZ Top this summer. Called The Sharp Dressed Simple Man Tour, the trek will take both groups to 25 cities in North America. Uncle Kracker will join the tour as a special guest.
The Sharp Dressed Simple Man Tour kicks off on July 21 at the iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach, Florida. Tickets are available on Skynyrd’s website at www.lynyrdskynyrd.com/tour.
As proof of Skynyrd’s enduring popularity, the band was recently honored by Spotify after “Sweet Home Alabama” reached one billion streams on the service. The song was also featured in an all-star tribute at the CMT Music Awards on April 2.
ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Chuck Leavell, Cody Johnson, Paul Rodgers, Slash, Warren Haynes, LeAnn Rimes, and Wynonna Judd united to sing “Simple Man” and “Sweet Home Alabama” to close out the ceremony. Watch that incredible performance below.
Gary is so dearly missed. The current members of Skynyrd will make sure his legacy lives on…