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Gary Rossington performing in 2008
|Gary Robert Rossington|
December 4, 1951|
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
|Genres||Blues rock, boogie rock, hard rock, Southern rock|
|Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Rossington Collins Band, The Rossington Band|
Gary Robert Rossington (born December 4, 1951) is an American musician best known as a founder of southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, in which he is the sole constant member. He plays lead and rhythm guitar. He was a founding member of the Rossington Collins Band along with former bandmate, Allen Collins.
His mother Berniece recalled that Gary had a childhood interest in baseball and aspired to become a New York Yankee. Gary recalled that he was a "good ball player" until he heard The Rolling Stones and gave up his baseball aspirations.
Rossington formed the band The Noble Five as a teenager with friends Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, Larry Junstrom and Bob Burns in the summer of 1964. They would later change the name of the band to "The One Percent," but eventually settled on the name Lynyrd Skynyrd.
According to a New York Times article, Lacy Van Zant, patriarch of the Van Zant family, once went to West Jacksonville's Robert E. Lee High School to plead Rossington's case to school administrators after the fatherless Rossington was suspended for having long hair. Lacy Van Zant explained to the assistant principal that Rossington's father, who died shortly after Rossington was born, had died in the Army and that Rossington's mother needed the money Rossington made playing in his band. Lacy Van Zant further explained that, like his own sons, they were working men and long hair was part of the job.
Rossington's instrument of choice was a 1959 Gibson Les Paul which he had purchased from a woman whose boyfriend had left her and left behind his guitar. He named it "Berniece" in honor of his mother (whom he was extremely close to after the death of his father). Rossington played lead guitar on "Tuesday's Gone" and the slide guitar for "Free Bird". Along with Collins, Rossington also provided the guitar work for "Simple Man."
On Labor Day weekend in 1976, Rossington and fellow Skynyrd guitarist Allen Collins were both involved in separate auto accidents in their hometown of Jacksonville. Rossington had just bought a new Ford Torino, and hit an oak tree while under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. The band was due to go on tour in a couple of days, but had to postpone this tour due to Rossington's accident. The band members were not at all pleased with Rossington, and fined him $5000 for the delay caused to the band's schedule. Van Zant and Collins wrote the song "That Smell" based on the wreck, and Rossington's state of influence from drugs and alcohol at the time.
Rossington was one of six band members who survived the October 20, 1977, plane crash near Gillsburg, Mississippi, that took the lives of Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines, and three others. Despite breaking both arms, legs, wrists, and ankles, as well as his pelvis, Rossington would eventually recover from his injuries and play on stage again (albeit with steel rods in his right arm and one of his legs). He battled serious drug addiction throughout the next several years, partially as a result of his heavy dependence on medication taken during his recovery from the plane crash.
Along with his wife, Dale Krantz-Rossington, he then formed The Rossington Band, which released two albums in 1986 and 1988, respectively.
As of late 2017, Rossington still plays in the Lynyrd Skynyrd lineup. With the death of keyboardist, Billy Powell (January 28, 2009), Rossington is the last original band member left in the reformed Lynyrd Skynyrd Band.
Rossington suffered a heart attack on October 8, 2015 after which two Lynyrd Skynyrd concerts had to be cancelled.