44 years ago this past October 2oth, the music world endured one of the greatest tragedies in its history when a Convair CV-240 passenger plane carrying several members of Southern Rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, including founding member and vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, crashed into the woods near Gillsburg, Mississippi, killing six including Van Zant. The event has been memorialized in both song as well as in the hearts and minds of music fans the world over. Most recently, this singularly devastating accident was dramatized on film in a full-length feature Street Survivors: The True Story Of The Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash. Told from the perspective of Skynyrd drummer, Artimus Pyle, who not only survived the crash but helped rescue other members from the wreckage, the movie is a powerful testament to enduring legacy of Lynyrd Skynyrd and all that the band had to overcome in its incredible career. The accompanying soundtrack to the film converts the inspiring true story into musical form, taking selections of the film’s orchestral score and blending it with original music inspired by Skynyrd with guest appearances by Pyle as well as blues rock legend Pat Travers. Artimus was the drummer in the band’s classic lineup at the height of the band’s fame in the 1970, performing in the band from 1974 to 1977 and again from 1987 to 1991. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member in 2006. Artimus is considered a hero in the sense that after the crash, although injured himself, he pulled the remaining survivors out of the wreck and somehow was able to walk to a nearby farmhouse and secure help for his injured bandmates. He currently tours with the Artimus Pyle Band, a rockin’ crew that plays both original music and note-for-note versions of Skynyrd classics in the true spirit of the classic 70s lineup.
I had the complete honor and pleasure to get together with Artimus Pyle for a chat about this tragic event that changed the landscape of rock and roll…heck, let’s not limit it….the landscape of music. We talk about the day of the events, the deep honor of the man (Ronnie Van Zant) and his ability to write hit records with songs that will withstand whatever we humans can throw at it. While talking about the music, we discuss what his band, Artimus Pyle Band does to honor the Skynyrd family while moving the music forward We got into the making of the Street Survivors movie and soundtrack and how Artimus doesn’t get a single penny from either. Cleopatra Records & Films released Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash that depicts Pyle’s memories of the before and aftermath of the crash back in October of 2020. Artimus wrote the outline of the story that was made into the film. Cleopatra Records also released a soundtrack to the film that features performances by two of his sons: Marshall & Chris. I am here to help with the “reboot” of this project as the COVID world has certainly caused many to miss the original release. After spending time with Artimus and hearing about this tale many of us think we know about, getting deeper insights shared by him into him, as a person to be in awe over and well, frankly, there so much in this chat my words cannot touch it. But, listen for the part about Dolly Parton when you get in there – there’s so much cool here for you.