Lynyrd Skynyrd Guitarist Gary Rossington Has Emergency Heart Surgery

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Gary Rossington (L, touching heart) and Johnny Van Zant in 2021

Gary Rossington, the last remaining founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, has undergone emergency heart surgery. The band announced the news on their Facebook page late Friday night (July 23, 2021). Rossington has had a history of heart issues and underwent heart surgery as recently as 2019.

Despite their guitarist’s health issues, the group are continuing their 2021 tour which was originally planned as a farewell. On June 8, they switched its name to “Big Wheels Keep on Turnin’.”

“We all felt playing the shows and bringing the music to y’all was a better option than cancelling the performances,” the band wrote.

They typically perform a set that’s chock-full of some of classic rock’s best known anthems: “What’s Your Name,” “Simple Man,” “Gimme Three Steps,” “You Got That Right,” “Sweet Home Alabama” and their signature song, “Free Bird.”

The band’s complete statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with Gary Rossington as he recovers from emergency heart surgery. 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.

“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.

“We wish Gary a speedy recovery and we will see the Skynyrd Nation very soon!

“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! He will look forward to reading them!”

Watch Rossington (c), Johnny Van Zant (r) and Rickey Medlocke talk about returning to the road after the pandemic

Related: Skynyrd’s long farewell from the road

In 2019, Skynyrd revealed that Rossington had been experiencing fatigue and other symptoms related to a leaky heart valve. He underwent a procedure that summer to repair the valve.

On October 8, 2015, Rossington, then 63, suffered a heart attack. Unfortunately, heart problems are nothing new for the guitar hero, who underwent a quintuple bypass in 2003. Never one to be kept down for long, he returned to touring just seven weeks post-surgery.

He has been part of every line-up of Skynyrd dating back to its origins as My Backyard in 1964.

“There’s a saying the music business,” says Rossington. “You don’t retire from it. It retires you.”

Related: Listings for 100s of classic rock tours

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  1. Michael Scott
    #1 Michael Scott 25 July, 2021, 00:27

    Growing up in the 60’s & 70’s, I grew up with all the great bands. Skynyrd certainly being one of them. It’s hard seeing all your music idols leaving their respective bands for any reason. It’s not going to be long now when all the favorites have left. Hopefully the music, the legends will play on and bring what has to be the best music in the history of music to the new masses. There will never another “music explosion” like we had in the 60’s and 70’s. Get well Gary…!

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  2. Yvette
    #2 Yvette 25 July, 2021, 01:10

    ENJOYED “Lynyrd Skynyrd” Concert with Paul Rodgers and “Bad Company” on June 23, 2013 at Shoreline Mtn View…
    Sincere Wishes to Gary Rossington for a
    **Very Speedy Recovery**…

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