Guitarist and drummer Gary Rossington earned a place in music history as one of the founding members of the legendary rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd. Rossington was born in Jacksonville, FL, on (December 4, 1951). He quickly experienced tragedy in his life, with the death of his father. The loss caused Rossington to bond closely with his mother. In fact, when he finally purchased his first top-of-the-line guitar, he named it Berniece after his mother.
Rossington started out playing drums, not the guitar that he is best known for. In the early '60s, he and friend Bob Burns began to practice together with normal childhood dreams of being rock stars. There was one problem though, they both played drums. Rossington decided to turn his attention to the guitar. That meant he had to work hard to save enough money to get one -- and then he had to learn how to play it. Luck would have it that not long after this time his sister Carol was seeing Lloyd Phillips, a fast guitarist. Phillips helped young Rossington get the hang of most of the basics a new player needed to master.
Rossington and Burns soon enlisted another friend, bass guitarist Larry Junstrom, to join their little amateur band, You, Me and Him. By 1965, Rossington and Burns had teamed up with Allen Collins and Ronnie VanZant. The wind didn't grow still, the stars didn't glow extra bright in the sky, but surely the keeper of rock history noted this first coming together of what would be Lynyrd Skynyrd.
It took years of practice and many nightly gigs at small bars and clubs before the band's sound became what fans hear when they pop in a CD filled with hits from those early days. Rossington, as a Skynyrd member, was on his way to fame by 1973. The band's success seemed unstoppable by 1976. And then in 1977, Lynyrd Skynyrd came to a crashing end when the plane carrying the band members fell from the sky, coming to rest in a mangled heap in the woods of a Mississippi swamp. Ronnie VanZant, Steve Gaines, and his sister Cassie, all lost their lives that night, along with road manager Dean Kilpatrick. Rossington was one of the lucky survivors, but he didn't walk away from the crash. He had been literally broken into pieces. His pelvic bone was broken, some ribs, as well as bones in his feet, along with both wrists, both arms, and both legs.
After years of painful recovery, Rossington joined up with Collins and a couple other old Skynyrd members to form the Rossington-Collins Band in 1980. The groups debut offering, Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere, did well, but things still slowly fell apart and within a couple of years, after recording only one more album, Rossington and Collins parted ways.
Rossington married and moved to the mountains, leaving the hustle of the music world far behind until 1986. By 1987 there was a Skynyrd reunion and tribute tour. Rossington joined in, and the ride lasted for three years. In 1991 Rossington was in on the recording of another Lynyrd Skynyrd album, the first one since the plane crash to feature new tunes. Another album followed along with tours in American and Europe. ~ Charlotte Dillon, Rovi