Founding Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington has undergone emergency heart surgery.
The news was confirmed in a Facebook post from the band (opens in new tab), who wrote, "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 Rossingtons 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 favour 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!"
Former Brother Crane/Alice Cooper/Black Star Riders and current Thin Lizzy guitarist Damon Johnson was called up to fill in for Rossington over the weekend, performing at two shows, at the Twin Cities Summer Jam in Shakopee, Minnesota, and at the North Dakota State Fair in Minot. Earlier this year Johnson released the first album with his new band, the Get Ready.
Writing on social media (opens in new tab), Johnson said, "Gary Rossington’s guitar playing consumed me from Day One of discovering Skynyrd’s music in my youth. It was an honour 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 and Lynyrd Skynyrd."
Skynyrd's next show is at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on August 9.
In 2019, Rossington - the last surviving original member of the band - told Classic Rock that Lynyrd Skynyrd could perform without him, saying, "Well, they’re not supposed to because of legal reasons. But if Johnny [Van Zant] and Rickey [Medlocke] wanted to do it, I wouldn’t mind myself. They’re playing our music to the people, and the people would come to hear the original band’s music. I don’t know. It’s hard to say. If they wanted to do it and the management thought it would be a good idea…
"It would be weird, though, because none of the original guys would be in it."