Visit from Ronnie Van Zant on the recent passing of Gary Rossington
Gary Rossington was one of the original members of Lynard Skynyrd and lead guitarist. Gary survived the plane crash on October 20, 1977, that killed band members; Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines and road manager Dean Kilpatrick. The band had just released "Street Survivor" their latest album three days before. Leaving a successful performance of over 10,000 in South Carolina, the group boarded a plane for Baton Rouge, LA when the plane crashed in the swamps of Mississippi due to engine failure; no gas.
The group members that survived the plane crash had terrible injuries; with the exception of Artimus Pyle who was able to walk and seek help. Some accounts list Gary as the last survivor of Lynard Skynyrd but actually Artemus Pyle, the final drummer for the group is still alive today and still playing music. Members Leon Wilkeson and Allen Collins had more tragedy strike them in their remaining time here on earth. Wilkeson died at 49 years old from emphysema and cirrhosis of the liver., with drug intoxication as a contributing factor. Leon had been the most severely injured in the 1977 plane crash. Allen Collins was paralyzed from the waist down in a car crash in 1986. Allen died four years later from chronic pneumonia at the age of 37. Keyboardist Billy Powell. who survived the plane crash with facial injuries later died at 56 years old.
With the exception of Artimus Pyle, the band is together once more as per my conversation with Ronnie in spirit. Ronnie says he is at peace in Heaven playing music and writing songs, with Gary. and all the contributing members of the band. Ronnie says it's like being on the water in Jacksonville, Florida once more. I leave this YouTube video of one of the last performances of "Free Bird" three months prior to the crash. in the link above. Gary, who had battled heart issues later in life, was an icon in the music industry for his guitar abilities. Gary now rests comfortably watching over his children and grandchildren.
Gene Odom, security for Ronnie Van Zant gives the most comprehensive account of the plane crash. You can find Gene's account and that of the rescuers at the Lynard Skynyrd Memorial at the plane crash site in a Gillsburg, MS on YouTube.
Fly Free in spirit my friends.