Gary Rossington’s Return to Lynyrd Skynyrd Stage Following 2021 Heart Surgery

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Gary Rossington and Johnny Van Zant following Lynyrd Skynyrd’s performance of “Free Bird” on Oct. 23, 2021

Gary Rossington, the last remaining founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, returned to the stage on October 23, 2021 in Atlanta, Ga., four months after he had undergone emergency heart surgery. The band shared the news with their fans via a post on their Facebook page on Oct. 24. “It was a wonderful surprise to have Gary back on the stage in Atlanta,” it said. “Keep feeling better, bossman!” Watch him perform below.

The news of Rossington’s surgery came on July 23. The guitarist, born Dec. 4, 1951, has had a history of heart issues and also underwent heart surgery as recently as 2019.

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

The tour resumed on Aug. 22 and continued for another dozen shows before Rossington return on Oct. 23. The weekends-only dates continued through Nov. 20. When the band schedules new shows, tickets will be available here.

“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.”

Watch the band, with Rossington, perform “Free Bird” at Cellairis Amphitheatre in Atlanta, upon his return on Oct. 23

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!”

Veteran guitarist Damon Johnson filled in for Rossington during his absence.

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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11 Comments so far

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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…!

    Reply this comment
  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**…

    Reply this comment
  3. lyndon DYER
    #3 lyndon DYER 27 October, 2021, 05:03

    good luck gary, stay with us, the music world needs you, good luck with your health, worlds a better place with skynyrd music in it, thanks for all the memories.

    Reply this comment
  4. Geo
    #4 Geo 27 October, 2021, 17:21

    Can’t wait to see you guys again! Hopefully local small spots!

    Reply this comment
  5. Nick
    #5 Nick 27 October, 2021, 20:45

    Saw the original band in Pittsburgh pa… Blew me away. They were popping all their strings when they went off on freebird.. gary can play any style. Saw them a lot in Florida. Wish they would play other songs like I ain’t the one and working for mca. Keep rocking Gary and stay well my friend.

    Reply this comment
  6. Dog
    #6 Dog 27 October, 2021, 23:31

    Gary and the band, I was one of the stage hands at Newkirk Oklahoma in 2010 under the circus , one of the 3 spotlights, my job was on you. Brother I can relate to your medical issues, I have a few too, but we will get though. Keep Flyin Freebies

    Reply this comment
  7. BUCKY
    #7 BUCKY 28 October, 2021, 02:39

    Sure miss ya’all. Been with skynyrd from the beginning. Best of health to the band and Gary

    Reply this comment
  8. GuitarHero
    #8 GuitarHero 28 October, 2021, 12:17

    Great to know you’re back, Gary.
    I will keep you and your family which includes your Band Brothers in my prayers. Lynyrd Skynyrd is one of my all time favorite Bands. Being from Louisiana And raised in the country yalls songs have been a part of my life. Rock On Brother !!!!

    Reply this comment
  9. John F
    #9 John F 28 October, 2021, 12:31

    Glad to see all is well. Still enjoying all Skynyrd music. Been awhile since 202 Riverside Ave. Peace

    Reply this comment
  10. Country
    #10 Country 28 October, 2021, 14:50

    Glad You are back and doing well Gary God Bless You Johnny and Rickey, Love You Guys

    Reply this comment
  11. Diamond Darrell fan
    #11 Diamond Darrell fan 28 October, 2021, 19:45

    Can’t listen to anyone sing it but Ronnie can’t do it

    Reply this comment

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