Wynonna Judd, Cody Johnson + More Country Stars Tribute Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Gary Rossington at the CMT Music Awards [Watch]
Some of country and rock's biggest acts came together to celebrate the life and music of Lynyrd Skynyrd founding member Gary Rossington during the 2023 CMT Music Awards on Sunday night (Apr. 2).
Rock legend Peter Frampton introduced the tribute, as well as introducing the CMT Awards crowd to those close to Rossington and his Lynyrd Skynyrd band mates, who were sitting in the crowd. He then included the all-star rocker lineup of tribute performers, who were joined by some modern-day country superstars for the performance.
Cody Johnson joined ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, the Allman Brothers Band's Warren Haynes and Chuck Leavell, rocker Paul Rodgers and influential Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash for the rollicking tribute. LeAnn Rimes and Wynonna Judd served as the Honkettes for the evening, singing backup during the tribute.
The legendary musicians came together for a performance of "Simple Man," changing out some of the lyrics in tribute to the late legend: "Gary was a simple man."
Johnson took a verse in the performance, trading out his customary country twang for some hard-hitting rock flair, and wailing rock chops that matched the moment. The singer -- a winner at this year's CMT Music Awards -- shone amid a crowd of legendary rock performers, his vocals cresting over the chorus of guitars as the song rose to its emotional climax.
They then transitioned into Skynyrd's signature song, "Sweet Home Alabama," leading the crowd in a rousing sing-along of a Southern rock classic. Everyone in the audience grooved along to this rocking rendition of "Sweet Home Alabama," with country stars like Lainey Wilson and Hardy danced along from their seats in the crowd. It was a heartwarming tribute to a rocker with profound country ties, and as the camera panned out over the crowd, it was evident just how pervasive Rossington's influence was for artists from every corner of the country genre.
Rossington died on March 5, 2023, at the age of 71.
The 2023 CMT Music Awards aired live from Austin, Texas' Moody Theater. The awards show broadcast on CBS and streamed live and on demand on Paramount+. Kane Brown and Kelsea Ballerini are this year's co-hosts.