Guitarist Gary Rossington, the last surviving member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, has died at the age of 71.
The band’s official Facebook account wrote: “It is with the deepest sadness and sadness that we announce the loss today of our brother, friend, family member, songwriter and guitarist, Gary Rossington.”
“Gary is now in heaven with his Skynyrd brothers and family and playing the good game 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.”
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s legacy
Rossington, one of the founding members of the group, was still a teenager when he started working with Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, Larry Junstrom and Bob Burns in 1964.
As a quintet, the group was initially called ‘My Backyard’. They reviewed the names ‘Conquering the Worm’, ‘Worm Five’ and ‘One Percent’ before settling on the iconic ‘Lynyrd Skynyrd’ moniker in 1969.
The band named themselves after Leonard Skinner, a Florida high school physical education teacher and a character in Allan Sherman’s new song ‘Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh’. The band released their debut album ‘(‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd)’ in 1973 and received immediate acclaim in rock circles, especially for the song ‘Free Bird’.
Lynyrd Skynyrd for most people excellent groupFor a Rock n’ Roll brand from the Southern USA.
‘Free Bird’ and ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ belong to a certain class of rock songs that have overtaken the band and become standards of the genre.
Although they quickly rose to stardom with their iconic sound in the ’70s, the band was beset by tragedy from their early days. For example, Rossington cheated death twice. In 1976, he drove his Ford Torino into a tree, inspiring the band’s cautionary song ‘That Smell’. The following year the band would be involved in a devastating plane crash that killed many members of the band.
On October 20, 1977, three days after releasing their fifth album, ‘Street Survivors’, the band boarded a plane from South Carolina to fly to Louisiana.
The plane ran out of fuel and crashed into a forest in Mississippi; Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, backing vocalist and Gaines’ sister Cassie, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, and pilot and co-pilots Walter McCreary and William John Gray died.
Rossington survived, and the band eventually reunited in 1987 with Van Zant’s brother Johnny as lead vocalist. Collins did not rejoin the band because he was injured in a 1986 car accident. He later died in 1990. Burns and Junstrom died in 2015 and 2019, respectively.
With Rossington’s death, the last founding member of the original Lynyrd Skynyrd also passed away.
In 2018, the band began a long farewell tour, and there was talk of a fifteenth album on the horizon. Rossington claimed they will play live occasionally, but time will tell if the band will now continue without any original members.
It puts Lynyrd Skynyrd in the rare position of a band with none of its founding members surviving.
Comparatively, older legendary bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd all have surviving members.
Here’s a rundown of some of the biggest bands with none of their founding members remaining.
What does Lynyrd Skynyrd mean to Southern US rock music? ramoneswe are in new york punk.
Formed in 1974, the Ramones’ original lineup consisted of Joey Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone, Johnny Ramone and Tommy Ramone.
The four, who are not biologically related, adopted the surname Ramone after “Paul Ramon,” the nickname Paul McCartney used when checking into hotels.
In the 70s and early 80s, the Ramones would become a leading force in defining the punk movement. From their fast-paced, simple and catchy songs to their leather jacket looks, the Ramones are both the musical and visual example of punk.
Unfortunately, none of the founding members are with us today. Joey died in 2001, Dee Dee in 2002, Johnny in 2004, and Tommy in 2014.
Jimi Hendrix Experience
Jimi Hendrix ExperienceIt was essentially created by Jimi Hendrix out of necessity to produce a full album.
After moving to London, Hendrix recruited guitarist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell to form the band in 1966. They released three albums together, all of which showcased Hendrix’s virtuoso guitar style that would redefine what was possible on the electric guitar.
Hendrix died of an overdose in 1970 at the age of 27. After a career in multiple bands, Redding died in 2003 and Mitchell died in 2008.
A shift from the punk of the Ramones and the guitar flare of Hendrix to a band that encompasses both.
One of the pioneers of glam rock, T. Rex found success in the ’70s with their first two albums: 1970’s ‘T. Rex’ and 1971’s ‘Electric Warrior’. Legendary glam rock songs ‘Get It On’, ’20th Century Boy’ and ‘Cosmic Dancer’ still convey the giddy enthusiasm they had when they were released.
But although these songs come from T. Rex’s first two albums, singer-songwriter and founder Marc Bolan was actually in the second incarnation of a band called Tyrannosaurus Rex, formed in 1967, releasing songs with a psychedelic edge.
Bolan died in a car accident in 1977, while Tyrannosaurus Rex founder Steve Peregrin Took died in 1980.
A unique resurrection: Sugababes
While this list consists mainly of bands made up of former white dudes wreaking havoc, honorable mention must go out to a band that did the impossible: replace all the founding members and eventually return to the original lineup.
Founded in 1998 by manager Ron Tom, singers Mutya Buena, Keisha Buchanan and Siobhán Donaghy formed Sugababes.
The original line-up, Sugababes, released an album called ‘One Touch’ in 2000. It was a huge hit, but soon Donaghy left the band. Over the course of seven albums, the other two members would be replaced by a completely unoriginal lineup.
But Buena, Buchanan and Donaghy always knew what the fans wanted. They reformed as Mutya Keisha Siobhan in 2012. In 2019, they regained the Sugababes title and released an album of previously unheard material: ‘The Lost Tapes’, due out in 2022.