Following the passing of Southern rock star Gary Rossington in March, the 2023 CMT Music Awards decided to pay tribute to the late superstar and his impact with Lynyrd Skynyrd on Sunday night (April 2).
Taking to the stage for the evening’s final performance, country singers Cody Johnson, Wynonna Judd and LeAnn Rimes were joined by Guns N’ Roses’ Slash, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Bad Company’s Paul Rodgers and former Allman Brothers Band members Chuck Leavell and Warren Haynes for a tribute to the late guitarist, performing the band’s iconic tracks “Simple Man” and “Sweet Home Alabama.”
The star-studded group of performers was introduced by British rock star Peter Frampton, who lauded Rossington as a “Southern rock icon,” saying the star “helped define a band’s sound, and he inspired millions of fans and musicians” before joining his fellow bandmates “in rock n’ roll heaven.”
For their performance, the superstar group turned the stage into a Southern swamp of talent, backed by images of murky waters and reeds, as the musicians grooved their way through “Simple Man,” with Johnson and Rodgers trading verses back and forth. Once they finished out the classic track, the supergroup launched into a rollicking performance of “Sweet Home Alabama,” bringing the cheering crowd to its feet for a big finish to the annual ceremony.
Johnson, Judd, Rimes and company were far from the only performers to take to the CMT stage on Sunday. Stars including Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, Jelly Roll and Carrie Underwood all performed at the awards show, while Kelsea Ballerini and Kane Brown hosted the telecast and delivered sets of their own.