Lynyrd Skynyrd Founding Member Gary Rossington ‘Expects a Full Recovery’ After Emergency Heart Surgery

by Suzanne Halliburton

It’s good news for fans of Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Gary Rossington, the last surviving original member of the iconic southern rock band, is doing well and expected to make a full recovery.

The band’s official social media accounts updated Rossington’s condition with the positive news.

“Gary is home resting and recovering with his family,” the band said. “He wants everyone to know he is doing good and expects a full recovery.”

Lynyrd Skynyrd Guitarist Said He Suffered Heart Attacks on Stage

The 69-year-old Rossington has dealt with a heart condition since at least 2015. That’s when he suffered a heart attack. In fact, Rossington said he’s suffered them on stage while performing with Lynyrd Skynyrd well before 2015.

“I’ve had heart attacks on stage a lot,” Rossington told The Tampa Bay Times in 2018. He added that his doctors had urged him to quit for the past 15 years.

He needed emergency heart surgery in 2016. And then surgeons repaired his heart valve in 2019. Each time Rossington had a heart issue, Lynyrd Skynyrd postponed tour dates.

But this time, Lynyrd Skynyrd kept playing. The band said they received the blessing from the Rossington family to continue.

Lynyrd Skynyrd posted: “After this past year, the country being shut down and everything we have all been thru, The Rossington’s encouraged the band to go perform in his absence. Music is a powerful healer! We all felt playing the shows and bringing the music to y’all was a better option than cancelling the performances.”

Band Named Group After High School Gym Teacher

Rossington was an original band member when the group formed in Jacksonville, Fla, during the summer of 1964. The other founding members were Ronnie Van Zant (vocals), Bob Burns (drums), Allen Collins (guitar), and Larry Junstrom (bass). They were all friends in high school. And by 1969, the group decided to name the band after a high school gym teacher, Leonard Skinner, who hated long hair and loud music.

A plane crash killed Van Zant in 1977. Rossington and Collins were injured in the crash. Rossington talked about the accident with People magazine in 1980, recalling heartbreaking details.

“It was the worst thing that ever happened to me,” the Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist said. “One day we had everything, the next day there was nothing. We were on top of the world, and we were thrown down.”

Most of the other Lynyrd Skynyrd band members also died from tragic circumstances. Collins passed away in 1990 of pneumonia. He was paralyzed from the waist down as a result of a car accident. The pneumonia was a complication of the paralysis. Burns died in a car wreck six years ago.

Junstrom passed away in 2019. Family members never revealed, publicly, his cause of death. Before Junstrom died, the Washington Post said eight band members already had died.

Lynyrd Skynyrd band members asked for prayers for Rossington. They also asked for fans to leave him a nice note. He’d be reading them soon.