Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington recently underwent successful emergency heart surgery, the band reported on social media.
As a result, Rossington missed the band's July 22 performance at the Twin Cities Summer Jam in Shakopee, Minnesota and their July 23 performance at the North Dakota State Fair. His place was filled by Black Star Riders/Thin Lizzy/Alice Cooper/Brother Cane guitar veteran Damon Johnson, who will continue to perform with the group during their next leg of shows while Rossington recovers.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Gary Rossington as he recovers from emergency heart surgery," read a post on Lynyrd Skynyrd's Instagram page. "Gary is home resting and recovering with his family. He wants everyone to know he is doing good and expects a full recovery.
“After this past year, the country being shut down and everything we have all been thru, The Rossingtons 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.
“We wish Gary a speedy recovery and we will see the Skynyrd Nation very soon!”
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Rossington, 69, is the only remaining original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and indeed the only surviving member of the group's "Free Bird"/"Sweet Home Alabama"-era lineups. He previously suffered a heart attack in October 2015, forcing the band to cancel the final two American dates of their 2015 tour.
“Gary Rossington’s guitar playing consumed me from day one of discovering Skynyrd’s music in my youth," Johnson said. “It was an honor to lend a hand to the band this weekend, and my family is sending buckets of healing energy [in] Gary's direction. Thank you, Skynyrd Nation.”
Though Skynyrd's 2018-2019 Last of the Street Survivors tour was billed as their farewell, the band have 10 remaining American tour dates in August and September.
To view the group's itinerary, stop by lynyrdskynrd.com.
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Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.