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In rock-n-roll folklore, there is no band more blessed and cursed than Lynyrd Skynyrd.

While knocking out some of the greatest rock songs of all time like, “Sweet Home Alabama,” and “Free Bird,” among others, the band also suffered some of the most devastating and crushing tragedies ever.

From serious car accidents to a devastating plane crash that killed several band members, Lynyrd Skynyrd were the poster boys for the “highest highs” and the “lowest lows.”

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But through it all, they kept making down home southern rock music that stood the test of time.

“Sweet Home Alabama” 1977, Oakland Colosseum:

“Free Bird” 1977, Oakland Colosseum:


Sadly, though, the music has finally stopped.

Gary Rossington, the founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd and last remaining original band member, died at 71.

Rossington wrote that famous Southern ballot, “Sweet Home Alabama,” which took a legendary swipe at rocker Neil Young. We should note that Neil Young and Skynyrd had tremendous mutual respect as artists, and any notion of a feud was overblown at best. In fact, Skynyrd’s Ronnie Van Zant famously wore a Neil Young shirt on an album cover.

Thrasher’s Wheat:

When Skynyrd criticized Neil Young’s “Southern Man,” it was for the sweeping generalization of all southerners as rednecks. Don’t condemn southerners now for what their ancestors did. “We thought Neil was shooting all the ducks in order to kill one or two,” Van Zant said.

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Here’s the relevant lyrics:

Big wheels keep on turnin’
Carry me home to see my kin
Singin’ songs about the south-land
I miss Alabamy once again and I think it’s a sin, yes

Well I heard Mister Young sing about her
Well I heard ol’ Neil put her down
Well I hope Neil Young will remember
A southern man don’t need him around anyhow

Sadly, Gary Rossington — co-author of the above classic — died on Sunday.

From a The Associated Press:

Gary Rossington, a co-founder and last surviving original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd who helped write the classic answer song “Sweet Home Alabama” and played unforgettable slide guitar on the rock anthem “Free Bird,” died Sunday at age 71. No cause of death was given.

“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,” the band wrote on Facebook. “Gary is now with his Skynyrd brothers and family in heaven and playing it pretty, like he always does.”

Rossington cheated death more than once. He survived a car accident in 1976 in which he drove his Ford Torino into a tree, inspiring the band’s song “That Smell.” A year later, he survived the plane crash that killed singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines, with multiple broken bones and internal injuries.

Gary sat down with other survivors and discussed the fateful day when the plane went down:

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Gary was famous for his “slide guitar” solos. Here are some of his best:

Gary nearly died in a car accident, and the song “That Smell” was actually about him:

The story of Lynyrd Skynyrd is the stuff legends are made of.

This compelling video shares the real details behind all the hype and PR surrounding the “life” of the greatest Southern rock band of all time:

There was no cause of death given for Gary Rossington. But we do know last year he had heart surgery.

Our prayers are with his family.

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God’s speed, sir…


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