Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Last Surviving Original Member Dies

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Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington, who co-wrote iconic songs like “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Free Bird,” has died. He was 71.

The band released a statement saying, “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,” the group 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 provided, but Rossington suffered various heart problems throughout the years.

Lynyrd Skynyrd was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.

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Lynyrd Skynyrd was formed during summer 1964 in Jacksonville, Florida, where a young Rossington, Ronnie Van Zant and Bob Burns met while competing on rival baseball teams, according to the band’s website.

The group was later joined by guitarist Allen Collins and bassist Larry Junstrom, and they performed under a handful of names, including My Backyard and The Noble Five, before the band stuck with the name Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1969.

Rossington contributed to many of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s most famous songs, including “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Free Bird.”

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