Artimus Pyle Is Making a Movie About Lynyrd Skynyrd
A movie about Lynyrd Skynyrd is currently in the works. Artimus Pyle, the band's founding drummer, is working on a script with director Jared Cohn, and it will be produced by Cleopatra Films.
Pyle, who is also working on his autobiography, told Deadline that the 1977 plane crash that killed frontman Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, vocalist Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray, will feature heavily into the plot. Pyle spent 20 hours with Cohn describing the tragedy. More importantly, he's looking to shed light on the fact that, despite the number of classic songs they recorded, this was still a band that, with only five records under its belt at the time, had barely scratched the surface of what it could do.
“When that plane crashed, we were at the top of the world, man,” he said. “I mean, we could play with any band — any band, whether it was the Rolling Stones, anyone, and we would hold our own or better. I think of that accident every day and what we might have accomplished if we’d have 10 more years."
The drummer split with Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1991 following a lawsuit filed by Van Zant's widow, Judy, over the rights to the name. But Pyle remains attached to the music and the memories he has, and wants to share them with Skynyrd fans all over the world.
"I want the movie to portray my band members the way they were," he continued, "real, funny people who loved the music, loved the success that allowed us to be able to travel the world and play for kings and queens all over this planet. Of course, there is the tragedy, us being on this airplane that ran out of fuel after a performance in Greenville, South Carolina that became the last place Ronnie Van Zant ever sang 'Free Bird.' It’s incredibly personal and passionate to me and I want the movie going public to be able to share the laughs and the tears.”
They are hoping to begin shooting the film later this year. Some of the music will be provided by Pyle, and it has not yet been determined if they will be able to use Lynyrd Skynyrd songs.
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