After the recent death of original founding member Gary Rossington, the LYNYRD SKYNYRD bandmembers and estates have been in discussion on what was next for the group and the music that is celebrating 50 years of generational history in American rock and roll. The current members, led by Johnny Van Zant, the singer for the past 36 years, was unsure if they would continue following Gary's untimely passing. After much discussion with the band, the families of Ronnie Van Zant and Allen Collins and Dale Rossington, the collective has reached unified support, and feel that continuing to perform live, and keeping the music alive, is in the best interest of the fans and everyone involved.
Dale Rossington shares: "I recently lost my husband and partner of over 41 years. He was an amazing father, grandfather, brother and friend, but most importantly was a world class musician and songwriter. It's been my honor and privilege to share the stage with him for all these years. His music touched so many millions of people around the world, and Gary was always the first to say how, 'SKYNYRD's music is bigger than me or any one person.' Gary made it known at every chance to express how timeless the music was, and it was always his goal to keep the music alive for his brothers because that was always their dream. He spent his entire life trying to carry on that dream for Ronnie, Allen, Steve and all the others over the years. While he was not able to physically be on stage with the current lineup over the last couple years, he supported them in every way. His dream will continue thanks to Johnny, Rickey and the rest of our band mates to continue to carry his legacy and music on for future generations."
Johnny Van Zant adds: "Gary was not only my brother, bandmate and friend. I think he loved me as much as I loved him. We would do anything for each other. We laughed, we fell, we cried and made up, and shared the stage for the last 36 years. Gary, along with my brother Ronnie and Allen started this band and left us all a legacy of music that has stood the test of time, and crossed three generations of fans. The music they created, and the music we created, together since 1987, was always meant to be experienced live. We have come together with the founding band member estates, and everyone involved, and feel the music should continue for everyone to love and enjoy. So we will continue to perform for the SKYNYRD nation."
Judy Van Zant Jenness adds: "LYNYRD SKYNYRD has been a part of my life for 50+ years. The journey has been filled with love, joy, friendship and tragedy. Ronnie, Gary and Allen's dream was to write music that would connect with people and to play that music live. I cannot say with certainty what those who have passed on would want us to do, but I do know what Gary wanted. And I know what the fans want. To show our undying love for those who are no longer with us and to pay tribute to them, the music will continue. The LYNYRD SKYNYRD family is unified in this decision.”
In June, Encore will present LYNYRD SKYNYRD's performance filmed at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee on November 13, 2022. The concert film captures the final public performance of Gary Rossington, and will be exhibited on big screens in movie theaters across the U.S. It will then be broadcast in August on PBS. The CMT Music Awards presented an all-star tribute live on CBS from Austin's Moody Center on April 2, honoring Rossington featuring Billy Gibbons, Chuck Leavell, Cody Johnson, Paul Rodgers, Slash and Warren Haynes, with LeAnn Rimes and Wynonna Judd joining as "The Honkettes." Recently, LYNYRD SKYNYRD was honored by Spotify for reaching the milestone achievement of one billion streams for "Sweet Home Alabama".
The "Sharp Dressed Simple Man" tour, the first co-headlining tour featuring ZZ TOP and LYNYRD SKYNYRD will stage performances in twenty-five cities in North America this summer, with special guest UNCLE KRACKER. Produced by Live Nation, the tour kicks off on Friday, July 21 at iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach, Florida and wraps in Camden, New Jersey at Freedom Mortgage Pavilion on Sunday, September 17. Tickets and VIP packages are available via the band's site.
Rossington was the last surviving founding member of LYNYRD SKYNYRD. On March 5, his bandmates announced the news of his death in a statement shared on their social media.
"It is with our deepest sympathy and sadness that we have to advise, that we lost our brother, friend, family member, songwriter and guitarist, Gary Rossington, today," they wrote.
"Gary is now with his SKYNYRD brothers and family in heaven and playing it pretty, like he always does," the group continued. "Please keep Dale, Mary, Annie and the entire Rossington family in your prayers and respect the family's privacy at this difficult time."
No cause of death was disclosed.
The guitarist had previously dealt with various heart problems throughout the years, including emergency heart surgery in 2021.