Peter Frampton Makes Rare Appearance at 2023 CMT Awards to Honor Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Gary Rossington

Frampton’s appearance came four years after he announced his retirement from touring following his inclusion body myositis diagnosis

Catherine Powell Peter Frampton
Catherine Powell Peter Frampton

Peter Frampton made a rare appearance at the 2023 CMT Music Awards to introduce a tribute performance to the late Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, who died at 71 earlier this month.

Four years after announcing he’d been diagnosed with inclusion body myositis, a degenerative muscle disorder, Frampton appeared at the awards show in Austin, Texas on Sunday to announce a tribute performance to Lynyrd Skynyrd following Rossington’s death.

“I’m here tonight to honor a dear friend and tourmate who we lost very recently. Gary Rossington was a southern rock icon and an original founding member of our beloved group, Lynyrd Skynyrd,” said the 72-year-old rock icon, who appeared in good spirits as he stood with a cane.

Check out PEOPLE’s full CMT Awards coverage to get the latest news on country’s big night.

Randy Shropshire/Getty Peter Frampton
Randy Shropshire/Getty Peter Frampton

“Alongside Ronnie Van Zant and Allen Collins. Gary not only helped define the band’s sound, he inspired millions of fans and musicians,” continued Frampton. “He’s now joined his fellow Skynyrd bandmates in rock and roll heaven, but we will all enjoy their music forever.”

After his introduction, Cody Johnson, Billy Gibbons, Paul Rodgers, Slash, Chuck Leavell, Warren Haynes, Wynonna Judd and LeAnn Rimes took to the stage and performed Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” and “Sweet Home Alabama.”

The Southern rock band announced Rossington’s death in a statement shared on their Facebook page on March 5. “It is with our deepest sympathy and sadness that we have to advise, that we lost our brother, friend, family member, songwriter and guitarist, Gary Rossington, today,” the band began.

Related:Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Last Surviving Founding Member, Guitarist Gary Rossington, Dead at 71

Scott Dudelson/Getty Gary Rossington
Scott Dudelson/Getty Gary Rossington

“Gary is now with his Skynyrd brothers and family in heaven and playing it pretty, like he always does,” the group continued. “Please keep Dale, Mary, Annie and the entire Rossington family in your prayers and respect the family’s privacy at this difficult time.”

In February 2019, Frampton announced his retirement from touring and informed fans of his diagnosis of inclusion body myositis, a degenerative muscle disorder that would gradually rob him of his ability to play guitar.

He told PEOPLE later that year that he was feeling “great” and felt “some progression,” especially in his legs. “I work out five days a week, and the more I work out, the better it is to keep the strength in the muscles that I still have,” said Frampton. “It’s starting to affect my arms and my hands a little bit, but it’s not affecting my playing to a great deal, so I’m still enjoying playing. For how long, I don’t know.”

MCA/Chris Walter/Getty Images Lynyrd Skynyrd circa 1976
MCA/Chris Walter/Getty Images Lynyrd Skynyrd circa 1976

Related:Peter Frampton on His Final Tour and Battling the Rare Disease That Could End His Music Career

The musician continued, “It’s very slow, the progression, but it’s more the fact that I’m having trouble standing and walking and things like that, as opposed to actually playing guitar. I have to say that it’s affecting everything, but not to the point where I don’t feel my playing is 100 percent.”

Despite his retirement from touring, he’s continued playing shows, most recently at a Las Vegas festival in January. Last year, he performed a few shows throughout Europe.

The 2023 CMT Music Awards aired live from the Moody Center in Austin, Texas on Sunday, April 2 on CBS and Paramount+.

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