The Lynyrd Skynyrd show at the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City will go on Sunday as planned, the festival president said Monday, despite the recent death of Gary Rossington, who helped found the group.
Rossington, who was Lynyrd Skynyrd’s last surviving original member, died Sunday at the age of 71. No cause of death was given.
The band last played the Strawberry Festival in 2020 and had performed “four or five times over the years,” said Paul Davis, who has been the festival president for 25 years.
“He was just a great guy and we are so sad by this news,” Davis said. “Just think of what a great part he plays in music history. It’s a big loss.”
Lynyrd Skynyrd is scheduled to close out the festival 7:30 p.m. March 12. Tickets are $60 at flstrawberryfestival.com.
In 1964 in Jacksonville, vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, guitarists Rossington and Allen Collins, bassist Larry Junstrom and drummer Bob Burns, all childhood friends, formed the band they named after a teacher known for his strict policy forbidding long hair on boys. They went on to become Southern-rock icons who survived the 1977 plane crash that killed singer Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines.
Rossington told Rolling Stone that he never considered Skynyrd to be a tragic band, despite all the band’s drama and death.
“I don’t think of it as tragedy — I think of it as life,” he said upon the group’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2006. “I think the good outweighs the bad.”
If you go
Florida Strawberry Festival: The Plant City festival has celebrated the strawberry harvest with a midway, animal shows and a lineup of top country, pop and rock artists. It runs through March 12 from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily at 303 BerryFest Place, Plant City. Concert tickets are in addition to gate admission, which is $10, $5 ages 6-12, 5 and younger free. flstrawberryfestival.com.