In 1977 a tragic plane crash killed three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Now the story of this iconic American band and the crash will be told as through the eyes of the band’s drummer, Artimus Pyle, named after the classic ballad “Free Bird.”
Pyle was one of the few survivors from the plane crash. He helped pull additional people to safety, but unfortunately lost frontman Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and backup singer Cassie Gaines. In an exclusive with Deadline, Pyle said:
“When that plane crashed, we were at the top of the world man. 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 ten more years. But I’m very proud of the band; I love the music and I love playing it still.”
Cleopatra Films will be working with Pyle to bring this story to life. Pyle is also co-writing the script with Jared Cohn, who will be directing too. According to Pyle:
"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. 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. 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."
Shooting for the film is planned for later this year. Due to disputes over the band’s legacy, they are still trying to obtain rights to include some of the band’s music. Pyle will also be contributing his own recordings as well.