Over the years, ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd have performed together on numerous occasions, and they even have a joint tour planned for this summer. Upon hearing the news of Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington’s passing at 71 on Sunday, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons reflected on the many miles they had traveled together on the road.
“Gary Rossington’s loss is especially profound for us as we’ve spent countless hours in his company on tour and all points in between,” Gibbons tells Rolling Stone. “We facilitated getting Lynyrd Skynyrd on the bill with ZZ Top at a South Carolina date way back during the start of the band’s rise in ’73, which started an enduring friendship.”
“Gary’s extraordinary ability as a guitarist was nothing less than inspirational. It’s an old cliché about somebody who has paid their dues to call them a ‘survivor,’ and in this case it is literally true. Gary was the last of the breed and will be missed.”
Despite struggling with ongoing heart issues, Gary Rossington, the last remaining original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, continued to tour with the band after surviving the infamous 1977 plane crash. In an interview with Rolling Stone last November, he revealed that while the travel was difficult for him, he was still able to play well. During a performance at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium that same month, he received a thunderous response from the audience for his moving slide-guitar performance on the band’s timeless 1974 ballad, “Free Bird.”
Lynyrd Skynyrd is scheduled to perform their next live show on Sunday, March 12th in Plant City, Florida. In the absence of Gary Rossington at previous concerts, guitarist Damon Johnson has taken over his role.