Gary Robert Rossington (December 4, 1951 – March 5, 2023) was an American musician and songwriter. He is best known as a founding member of Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, in which
he played lead and rhythm guitar. He was also the last living founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Rossington was also a founding member of the Rossington Collins Band, along with former bandmate Allen Collins.
Rossington was born in Jacksonville, Florida. His mother recalled that he had a strong childhood interest in baseball and aspired as a child to one day play for the New York Yankees. Rossington recalled that he was a "good ball player" but upon hearing the Rolling Stones in his early teens he became interested in music and ultimately gave up on his baseball aspirations.[
Rossington's instrument of choice was a 1959 Gibson Les Paul which he had purchased from a woman whose boyfriend had left her and left behind his guitar. He named it "Berniece" in honor of his mother, whom he was extremely close to after the death of his father. Rossington played lead guitar on "Tuesday's Gone" and the slide guitar for "Free Bird". Along with Collins, Rossington also provided the guitar work for "Simple Man" Besides the Les Paul, he used various other Gibson Guitars including Gibson SGs. Gibson also released a Gary Rossington SG/Les Paul in their Custom Shop. For most of his career, he played through Marshall and Peavey amplifiers.
In 1976, Rossington and fellow Skynyrd guitarist Allen Collins were both involved in separate car accidents in their hometown of Jacksonville. Rossington had just bought a new Ford Torino and hit an oak tree while under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. The band was forced to postpone a tour scheduled to begin a few days later, and Rossington was fined US$5,000 for the delay his actions caused to the band's schedule. The song "That Smell", written by Van Zant and Collins, was based on the wreck and Rossington's state of influence from drugs and alcohol that caused it.
Rossington was one of 20 passengers who survived the October 20, 1977, plane crash near McComb, Mississippi, that claimed the lives of Lynyrd Skynyrd members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines, and three others. As the passengers braced for impact, Rossington recalls hearing what sounded like hundreds of baseball bats hitting the plane's fuselage as it began striking trees. The sound got louder and louder until Rossington was knocked unconscious; he awoke some time later on the ground with the plane's door on top of him. Days later, Rossington was informed in the hospital by his mother that Van Zant and the others had been killed Rossington recovered from his injuries and played on stage again, with steel rods in his right arm and right leg.
Though in time Rossington fully recovered from the severe injuries sustained in the crash, he battled serious drug addiction for several years, largely the result of his heavy dependence on pain medication taken during his recovery from the plane crash. Rossington co-founded the Rossington Collins Band with Collins in 1980. The band released two albums, but disbanded in 1982 after the death of Collins' wife, Kathy. Along with his wife, Dale Krantz-Rossington, he then formed The Rossington Band, which released two albums in 1986 and 1988. Until his death in 2023, Rossington still played with Lynyrd Skynyrd. With the death of bassist Larry Junstrom in 2019, he became the last surviving original member of the band.