Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Gary Rossington Is Dead: Proud Southern Man – Culture
You can think what you like about Southern rock per se: it’s one hell of a great guitar lick that coaxes Gary Rossington into the first minute of “Free Bird”. Swelling organ intro, drums full of timpani and then this very heavy melody, played with Bottleneck and therefore so wonderfully creamy and melancholically floating and, in the best sense, a bit of wailing.
Great longing anthem otherwise, that the guitarist there with his band Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote at the time when the band still existed in the traditional sense. The original cast around singer Ronnie Van Zant died in a plane crash in October 1977 – all but Rossington, who was on board with the rest. The American had crashed his brand new Ford Torino into a tree a few years earlier, drunk and fast enough that it could have been over by then. As well as after a rather ambitious drug career, which was partly due to the painkillers he took to endure the fractures in both arms, legs and hip that he sustained from the plane accident. A few years ago he survived a heart attack, most recently a massive heart operation.
Neil Young told Lynyrd Skynyrd he was not welcome in the South
Rossington was born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1951. Forever proud southern man who released the song “Sweet Home Alabama” with his band in response to Neil Young’s “Southern Man”. In the opinion of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Young blamed the entire South for slavery with his play. One of the things that is pointed out to him in the text is that, to put it mildly, he is no longer particularly welcome in Alabama. So much for the question of whether everything is really more ideologically charged today than it used to be.
On Sunday the really fantastic guitarist, who represented his band in changing line-ups as the last original member, died. He was 71 years old.