Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington is expected to make a full recovery after emergency heart surgery.
“Gary is home in Alpharetta, GA recovering from heart surgery,” Ross Schilling of Vector Management told USA TODAY on Sunday. “We expect a full recovery and look forward to him returning to the stage in the near future.”
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“After this past year, the country being shut down and everything we have all been thru, (the Rossington family) encouraged the band to go perform in his absence. Music is a powerful healer! We all felt playing the shows and bringing the music to y’all was a better option than cancelling the performances,” the band’s statement on social media said. “We wish Gary a speedy recovery and we will see the Skynyrd Nation very soon!
”Please do us a favor and say some prayers for the Rossington family and if you would like to leave him a (positive) message please do! He will look forward to reading them!”
Rossington, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame who formed Lynyrd Skynyrd with Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, Larry Junstrom and Bob Burns in 1964, has a history of heart problems. He also had emergency heart surgery in 2016. In 2019, the band postponed a number of dates on what was billed as the group’s final tour while he had a heart valve repaired.
“Fortunately for us, people still want to hear and see us, and it's just rolled on,” bandmate Johnny Van Zant told USA TODAY in 2019. “We started this because of Gary's health problems. He has a bad heart, and we wanted to let people know that 'Hey, our time is coming to an end.' We wanted to do it right and I think so far we have. So we're going to keep busy probably for another year and then see what happens next year, as long as Gary's health is OK.”
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After a pandemic hiatus, the band announced it would return to the road.
“COVID turned our world upside down. 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,” Rossington said in an accompanying video message for fans. “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. We’re still standing, still keeping the music going.”
Rossington was seriously injured but survived the 1977 plane crash that killed lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and backup singer Cassie Gaines. Rossington also headed the Rossington Collins Band (1979 to 1982), which formed after the accident.
Contributing: Patrick Ryan
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lynyrd Skynyrd's Gary Rossington recuperating from heart surgery