Over the weekend, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s official Facebook page announced that guitarist Gary Rossington is resting at home and expecting to make a “full recovery” from a recent emergency heart surgery. At 69 years old, Rossington is the last remaining original member in the iconic Southern rock band.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Gary Rossington as he recovers from emergency heart surgery,” the post read. “Gary is home resting and recovering with his family at home. He wants everyone to know he is doing good and expects a full recovery.”
Continuing, the band makes note that after a long year of COVID-induced quarantine, they’ve opted to go on with the scheduled shows in their farewell tour, as opposed to canceling. “The Rossington’s encouraged the band to go perform in his absence,” the Facebook post explained. “Music is a powerful healer! We all felt playing the shows and bringing the music to y’all was a better option than canceling the performances. We wish Gary a speedy recovery and we will see the Skynyrd Nation very soon!”
Without Rossington, there are no more original members of Lynyrd Skynyrd in the band (with the exception of Rickey Medlocke, who had a brief stint with them as a backing musician in the early ‘70s, then rejoined in 1996). In Rossington’s place, the current lineup (led by former-lead singer Ronnie Van Zant’s little brother, Johnny Van Zant) has called in Thin Lizzy’s Damon Johnson.
“Gary Rossington’s guitar playing consumed me from day one of discovering Skynyrd’s music in my youth,” Johnson said on social media, according to AL.com. “It was an honor to lend a hand to the band this weekend, and my family is sending buckets of healing energy Gary’s direction. Thank you, Skynyrd Nation.”
This isn’t the first time Rossington’s had trouble with his heart—in both 2015 and 2019, he had similar incidents. Last year, Artimus Pyle—one of the band’s only other surviving original members (though he hasn’t played with them since 1991)—spoke out about it.
“The one silver lining of COVID-19 for me, because I love Gary Rossington and I miss Gary, is that he was allowed to go to his mansion in Atlanta and rest without the rest of the band members and their management company shaming him to get back on the road again to make them that money,” Pyle said last August. “They want that money and now Gary is actually getting a respite to heal up because any doctor will tell you to take six months to a year after you have a heart attack. They brag about pushing Gary out in two weeks. They’re awful. Gary is a trooper.”
This time, Rossington is staying home getting the rest he needs and deserves. “Please do us a favor and say some prayers for the Rossington family and if you would like to leave him a (positive) message please do!” the band’s Facebook post concludes. “He will look forward to reading them!”
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Gary Rossington is expected to make a “full recovery” after recent emergency heart surgery—watch a performance of their song “Simple Man” from 2015 below: