Artimus Pyle, the former drummer of Lynyrd Skynyrd, is being sued for his attempt to produce an unauthorized biopic about the band and their fatefull plane crash. Pyle performed as part of Skynyrd’s classic-lineup from 1974-1977, and again from 1987-1991.
When Pyle announced plans for a movie titled Free Bird last year, he was met with fierce pushback from ex-bandmates and families of deceased members. Since then Pyle has renamed the film Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash, and revealed the band is blocking him from using any old Skynyrd music in the project.
Rolling Stone has confirmed that Johnny Van Zandt, brother of original singer Ronnie, and the band’s lone remaining founder, Gary Rossington, have filed suit to halt production altogether. The estates of other deceased bandmates who perished in the group’s 1977 crash have joined the suit.
Citing a consent order that Pyle agreed to at the time, the suit states the drummer “is free to exploit his own personal life story” for the film. The 1988 order in question reads, “No such exploitation of life story rights is authorized which purports to be a history of the ‘Lynyrd Skynyrd’ band, as opposed to the life story of the applicable individual.” Co-producer Cleopatra Records is also included in the suit.
“We want this to be a good movie that tells a very passionate, intimate story about the music and the band and a rise and fall that happened so suddenly,” Pyle told Deadline last year. “I want the movie to portray my band members the way they were: 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.”