The rock world reacts to the death of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Gary Rossington

Gary Rossington onstage in 1975
(Image credit: Tom Hill)

Musicians across the world have taken to social media to pay tribute to founding Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington, whose death was announced on Sunday

The news was confirmed in a statement from the band, who wrote, "It is with our deepest sympathy and sadness that we have to advise, that we lost our brother, friend, family member, songwriter and guitarist, Gary Rossington, today.

"Gary is now with his Skynyrd brothers and family in heaven and playing it pretty, like he always does."

In the hours that followed the announcement, Rossington's fellow musicians paid tribute. 

“Gary Rossington’s loss is especially profound for us as we’ve spent countless hours in his company on tour and all points in between,” ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons told Rolling Stone. “We facilitated getting Lynyrd Skynyrd on the bill with ZZ Top at a South Carolina date way back during the start of the band’s rise in ’73, which started an enduring friendship.”

“Gary’s extraordinary ability as a guitarist was nothing less than inspirational. It’s an old cliché about somebody who has paid their dues to call them a ‘survivor,’ and it this case it is literally true. Gary was the last of the breed and will be missed.”

"Gary was so incredibly tasteful as a guitar player, Blackberry Smoke's Charlie Starr wrote in the same publication. "I’m sure most guitar players who are fans of Lynyrd Skynyrd can tell the difference between the guitar players and know who is playing what. They were all so different, starting with Ed King, Allen Collins, and Rossington. Gary was the “slowhand” guy of the bunch. He didn’t play flashy solos.

"When you listen to Free Bird, his playing sounds like a bird singing to you. Gary understood that was the job: Here’s this song, and Ronnie Van Zant has these incredible lyrics, and it’s my guitar’s job to sing to you also."

Om Instagram, Metallica's James Hetfield posted a picture that showed him sharing a stage with Rossington, and wrote, "RIP Brother Gary. Thank you for bringing me so much joy with your guitar playing and songwriting in one of my all time favourite bands, Lynyrd Skynyrd."

"Saddened to hear about the passing of the great Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd," wrote Megadeth's Dave Mustaine. "The last surviving original member of the legendary band. Rest in Peace, Gary.

Paul Rodgers wrote, "Yesterday we lost our musical brother Gary Rossington, a man we all loved. Our thoughts are with his love Dale, their family and his many friends and fans. I am numb... this cuts deep."

Peter Frampton said, "This cannot be! My heart breaks for Dale Rossington and the entire Skynryd family today. We have been friends since first touring together in the 70s. We will miss you my friend. Gary Rossington RIP."

"This has been worst week in my memory," wrote Joe Bonamassa. "Literally everyday another legend or friend has passed away. Rest in Peace Gary. Thank you for being so nice to me over the years."

Poison's Bret Michaels tweeted, "I send this with all of my heart, prayers and condolences to the family, friends and fans of Gary Rossington. On behalf of my family, he brought a lot of great music and many great memories to so many people. May he rest in peace."

Kenny Wayne Shepherd wrote, "Rest in Peace my man. One of the best to ever do it. And thank you Lynyrd Skynyrd for all the great memories on the road over the years."

Mötley Crüe guitarist John 5 wrote, "Ever since I was a kid I have loved Lynyrd Skynyrd and Gary’s guitar playing. I was fortunate to make a lotta great music with Gary and the boys. We stayed friends for many years. I will miss you. Rest in peace brother."

Country singer Travis Tritt said, "I just learned that my dear friend, Gary Rossington passed away today. I’m heartbroken! Gary was not only a friend, but a collaborator that wrote songs with me and played guitar with me in studio recordings and onstage so many times."

Thin Lizzy and former Black Star Riders guitarist Damon Johnson, who had been filling in for Rossington when ill health prevented him from playing with the band, simply tweeted, "Love you, Bubba. Thank you for everything."

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.