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Gary Rossington performing in 2008
|Birth name||Gary Robert Rossington|
December 4, 1951 |
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
|Genres||Blues rock, boogie rock, hard rock, Southern rock|
|Associated acts||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 occasional rhythm guitar. He was a founding member of the Rossington Collins Band along with former bandmate, Allen Collins.
His mother Berniece (for whom the Lynyrd Skynyrd song is named after) 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.
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.
Personal life and interests
Gary Rossington and wife Dale Krantz-Rossington have two daughters, Mary and Annie.
Rossington is an avid fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He recorded a video, along with then remaining members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, that is played at every Jaguars home game on the EverBank Field video board.
Rossington suffered a heart attack on October 8, 2015 after which two Lynyrd Skynyrd concerts had to be cancelled.
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Rossington has used Gibson Les Pauls and a Gibson SG throughout his career. He is mostly seen playing a Les Paul in sunburst finish, but he can be seen playing a red SG with tremolo for the song "Free Bird". He also uses a black finish Les Paul. Rossington uses Seymor Duncan Sh1 and Sh2 pickups in his Les Pauls.
Rossington was an avid user of Peavey amplifiers and cabinets, specifically using their Mace combo amps. He now uses two Peavey 4x12 cabinets with stock Peavey Black Widow speakers. He eventually got his own signature amp in 2009, the Peavey Penta Gary Rossington signature head. This is a 140 watt tube head. He uses two on stage (one hot, and one as a backup). Currently he also uses a Maxon PT 999 phaser.
Prior to his Peavey endorsement, Rossington would use Fender Twins and Fender Super Reverbs loaded with Jensen speakers, Marshall Plexis with speaker cabinets loaded with Celestion Greenbacks, and Hiwatt amps with speaker cabinets loaded with Fane speakers.
- Services, Wailer Website. "The Official Lynyrd Skynyrd History Website – History Lessons". www.lynyrdskynyrdhistory.com. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
- Dewan, Shaila K. (26 December 2004). "Southern Man". Retrieved 10 June 2017 – via NYTimes.com.
- "Gary Rossington - Biography & History - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
- Note: The specific lyrics that refer to the car wreck are: "Whiskey bottles and brand new cars, oak tree you're in my way. There's too much coke and too much smoke."
- Dillon, Charlotte. "Biography: Gary Rossington". AMG. Retrieved May 10, 2010.
- "Lynyrd Skynyrd Guitarist Gary Rossington Suffers Heart Attack". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 10 June 2017.