NOTE (Feb. 2020): Astute readers will not that this post has been updated several times over the years. My optimism was misplaced, but the project is not dead—quite the contrary. Artimus laughs at obstacles. For posterity, I have left intact the following post, but added some strikethrough and notes.
Former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle, the “Wild Man of Southern Rock,” is publishing his memoir
in early-summer, 2019, through Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard. Street Survivor: Keeping the Beat in Lynyrd Skynyrd will be available in all good book stores, and at Amazon. The book was originally scheduled for publication in October 2017, but it has been delayed pending resolution of unrelated litigation pitting Artimus and Cleopatra Films against Judy Van Zant. [NOTE (Feb. 2020): Artimus won the lawsuit, but it had limited legal relevance to the book, and so the publisher exited.]
This will be the first—and possibly last—Skynyrd autobiography, and therefore your only opportunity to read the truth about the rise and fall of one of America’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands. I was honored to help Artimus put it all together, trailing him across the South with my pencil and writing pad for several years. But every word, every semicolon in the book is his. It’s a breathless, 100,000-word-plus ride through
almost seventy years of joy, mayhem and tragedy. You could say that Artimus is also the Hunter S. Thompson of Southern Rock.
Some previously unpublished photos are included in the book, courtesy of Nuthin’ Fancy engineer Dave Evans and the band’s British minder Sally Arnold. I have a lot more unpublished Skynyrd and family photos
that I wanted to include, but there was no room. Here’s one. It’s of Artimus’ extremely handsome maternal grandfather, Guy Williams, as a young man:
The book’s image is a reproduction of a photo that can be found inside the Street Survivors album.
I love the original photo, taken by Dave Alexander, who also shot the cover for the Eagles’ Hotel California. But my protests about the distressed font on the cover fell on deaf ears as did my recommendation that the star be replaced with Artimus’ marine sergeant stripes. The publisher did, at least, include a pair of horizontal drum sticks, which is pretty cool.
By the way, Artimus and I are still having fun working on his family tree. We are currently at 600+ names going back to the Kogers of southern Germany in the 16th Century. Artimus’ southern American roots begin in about 1800 with Coonrod Pile (depicted below in a tiny portion of the tree; click on it for a bigger version).
Yes, the Crocketts are connected to Davy Crockett, and Nancy Brooks was the grandmother of Sgt. Alvin York, one of America’s greatest WW1 heroes. Artimus is intensely proud to be a cousin of Alvin’s, and a son of the south.