Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington recovering after heart surgery

Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington, the only surviving original member of the Southern rock ‘n’ roll band, is recovering after emergency heart surgery, the band said in a social media post.

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The band performed without Rossington, 69, on Friday at the North Dakota State Fair in Minot, Rolling Stone reported.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Gary Rossington as he recovers from emergency heart surgery,” Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote in a Facebook post on Friday. “Gary is home resting and recovering with his family at home. He wants everyone to know he is doing good and expects a full recovery.”

According to lead singer Johnny Van Zant, Rossington underwent surgery to “have an emergency stent put in his heart,” Rolling Stone reported.

Rossington, a native of Jacksonville, Florida, helped form the band in 1964 when they called themselves My Backyard. They later called themselves The Noble Five before settling on their current name. He suffered serious injuries after a plane carrying the band crashed in Mississippi on Oct. 20, 1977. Lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Steve Gaines were among the people killed.

In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times in 2018, Rossington said he had previous heart problems, including quintuple bypass surgery.

“I’ve had heart attacks on stage a lot,” Rossington told the newspaper.

He suffered a heart attack in 2015 that required surgery, and a 2019 procedure to repair a heart valve forced the band to scrap a tour, Rolling Stone reported.

Rossington was replaced on tour by guitarist Damon Johnson, reported.

“Gary Rossington’s guitar playing consumed me from day one of discovering Skynyrd’s music in my youth,” Johnson, an Alabama native, posted on social media. “It was an honor to lend a hand to the band this weekend, and my family is sending buckets of healing energy Gary’s direction. Thank you, Skynyrd Nation.”

According to its website, Lynyrd Skynyrd is back on the road again, 15 months after the band’s farewell tour was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID turned our world upside down,” Rossington said on the website. “And since that time, we have been talking amongst the band, and realized that music has such a way of healing.

“Maybe it’s not our time to go. And maybe it’s our time to lift people’s spirits and lives and bring back some joy and happiness after so much turmoil this past year.”

The band’s next scheduled show on their “Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour” is Aug. 9 in Canton, Ohio, according to the band’s website.

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