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Gary Robert Rossington (born December 4, 1951 in Jacksonville, Florida, USA) is a founding member of Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. He plays lead and rhythm guitar. He is also a founding member of the Rossington Collins Band along with former Lynyrd Skynyrd bandmate Allen Collins.
Rossington formed the band as a teenager with friends Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, Larry Junstrom and Bob Burns in the summer of 1964. Skynyrd gained national exposure starting in 1973 with the release of their first album (pronounced 'lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd) and hit single "Free Bird".
Rossington's instrument of choice was a '59 Gibson Les Paul that he purchased from a woman whose boyfriend had left her and left behind his guitar. He named it "Berneice" in honor of his mother who he was very close to. Rossington has yielded many memorable guitar parts, including the lead work on "Tuesday's Gone" and the slide guitar for "Free Bird". Along with Collins, Rossington also provided the guitar work for the popular "Simple Man".
On Labor Day weekend of 1976, Gary Rossington and fellow Skynyrd guitarist Allen Collins were both involved in separate car wrecks in their hometown of Jacksonville. Rossington had just bought a new Ford Torino, and hit an oak tree while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. 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. Lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Allen Collins wrote the song "That Smell" based on the wreck and Rossington's state of influence from drugs and alcohol at the time. "Whiskey bottles and brand new cars, oak tree you're in my way. There's too much coke and too much smoke."
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, guitarist/vocalist Steve Gaines, backing vocalist Cassie Gaines and three others. Despite breaking both arms, both legs, both wrists, both ankles and 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). He battled with 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.
In 1980, Rossington co-founded the Rossington Collins Band with Allen Collins. The band released two albums, but disbanded in 1982 after the death of Allen Collins' wife, Kathy.
Gary Rossington still plays in the current Lynyrd Skynyrd lineup. With the death of keyboardist Billy Powell on January 28, 2009, Rossington is now the only original band member left in the reformed band. Rickey Medlocke played with the band as a drummer in 1970 and part of '71 before reforming Blackfoot, but is not an original member.
Gary and Dale Krantz-Rossington have had two daughters, Mary and Annie. Their side project, the Rossington Band, opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd during their 1987-88 reunion tour. The Rossington Band released the following albums: Returned to the Scene of the Crime, 1986 and Love Your Man in 1988.
Gary Rossington and wife Dale Krantz-Rossington were unable to go on the Gimme Three Days Cruise in January 2007 due to Gary being ill. He had a heart problem which was successfully operated on. Rossington also occasionally experiences pain in his legs severe enough to force him to miss shows; this is an ongoing by-product of the 1977 plane crash.
Gary Rossington has used Gibson Les Pauls and Gibson SGs through out his career.
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