Gary Rossington 1951-2023: the guitar world pays tribute

Gary Rossington
(Image credit: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Stagecoach)

Yesterday (March 5), it was announced that Gary Rossington, the last surviving original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, had passed away at the age of 71.

The band’s official social media account broke the news with a statement that read, “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 the last of the band’s classic guitar lineup – and only founding Skynyrd member to appear on all of the iconic Southern rock outfit’s albums since the band’s inception as My Backyard in 1964 – Rossington has left behind a profound legacy, having carried the Skynyrd torch throughout the decades despite mounting health problems.

In response to the immeasurable inspiration Rossington gave both his peers and aspiring guitar fans alike, the guitar world has come out in full force to pay tribute to music and memory of the Skynyrd founder.

On Twitter, an especially emotional post from Joe Bonamassa read, “This has been [the] worst week in my memory. Literally everyday another legend or friend has passed away. Rest in Peace Gary. Thank you for being so nice to me over the years.”

Metallica frontman James Hetfield, who played alongside Rossington during Metallica’s 30th Anniversary shows in 2011, wrote, “RIP Brother Gary. Thank you for bringing me so much joy with your guitar playing and songwriting in one of my all time favorite bands, Lynyrd Skynyrd.”

Further tributes from Zakk Wylde, Neal Schon, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and more can be found below. 

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.