The last remaining original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd has died. Guitarist and songwriter Gary Rossington is dead at age 71, per a post on the group’s social media pages.

Rossigton’s cause of death is not known. "Gary is now with his Skynyrd brothers and family in heaven and playing it pretty, like he always does," the messages says.

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.

Please keep Dale, Mary, Annie and the entire Rossington family in your prayers and respect the family’s privacy at this difficult time.

In addition to his talents on guitar, Rossington helped write many of the group's most well-known songs. Our friends at Ultimate Classic Rock point out that "Simple Man," "What's Your Name?" and "Sweet Home Alabama" were all Rossington co-writes.

  • Rossington joined Ronnie Van Zant and Allen Collins to form My Backyard in 1964. The group was a precursor to Lynyrd Skynyrd.
  • He was among the survivors of the plane crash that killed much of the band in 1977, later leading the re-invented group into the 21st century.
  • Johnny Van Zant — who took over for brother Ronnie in 1987 — is now the longest tenured member of the group.

In recent years, Rossington continued to defy death. In October 2015, his daughter noted that doctors had saved his life multiple times, adding that she prayed for better techniques to deal with heart disease.

Per UCR, he underwent a quintuple bypass in 2003 and then suffered a heart attack in 2015. An abdominal infection that year also threatened his life, as did surgeries in ever odd year since.

Among the many tributes that poured in on social media was one from country singer Travis Tritt: "I'm heartbroken," he writes. "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."

"Gimme Back My Bullets" and "Don't Ask Me No Questions" were two more early Lynryd Skynyrd songs Rossington co-wrote.

Rossington leaves behind two daughters and wife Dale.

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