Gary Rossington

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Gary Rossington
Gary Rossington (2008).jpg
Gary Rossington performing in 2008
Background information
Birth name Gary Robert Rossington
Born (1951-12-04) December 4, 1951 (age 66)
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
Genres Blues rock, boogie rock, hard rock, Southern rock
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1964–present
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 rhythm guitar. He was a founding member of the Rossington Collins Band along with former bandmate, Allen Collins.

Early life[edit]

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.[1]

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.[2]

Music career[edit]

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).[3] 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed][4]

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).[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

Rossington co-founded the Rossington Collins Band with Collins in 1980.[5] The band released two albums, but disbanded in 1982 after the death of Collins' wife, Kathy.[citation needed]

Along with his wife, Dale Krantz-Rossington, he then formed The Rossington Band, which released two albums in 1986 and 1988, respectively.[citation needed]

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[edit]

Gary Rossington and wife Dale Krantz-Rossington married in 1982 and have two daughters.[6][7]

Rossington suffered a heart attack on October 8, 2015 after which two Lynyrd Skynyrd concerts had to be cancelled.[8]


  1. ^ Services, Wailer Website. "The Official Lynyrd Skynyrd History Website – History Lessons". Retrieved June 10, 2017. 
  2. ^ Dewan, Shaila K. (26 December 2004). "Southern Man". Retrieved 10 June 2017 – via 
  3. ^ "Gary Rossington - Biography & History - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved June 10, 2017. 
  4. ^ 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."
  5. ^ Dillon, Charlotte. "Biography: Gary Rossington". AMG. Retrieved May 10, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Don't Ask Me No Questions –". 
  7. ^ "Life Beyond Skynyrd: Guitarist Gary Rossington and Wife Dale 'Take It On Faith' (Interview) - Rock Cellar Magazine". 9 December 2016. 
  8. ^ "Lynyrd Skynyrd Guitarist Gary Rossington Suffers Heart Attack". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 10 June 2017. 

External links[edit]