It’s not often that Artimus Pyle performs on the West Coast. Based in North Carolina, the former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer plies a thriving trade along the eastern seaboard with his astonishingly adept and clean-cut band. The last time I saw him play in southern California was in September 2013, and that may well have been his last gig in the state. Until January, 2019, when the Artimus Pyle Band (APB) ventured out West for five shows—a tour opener in Las Vegas, and four in California.Read more
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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.]
… and that Lynyrd Skynyrd had a drummer (two of them).
While it was refreshing to see Lynyrd Skynyrd get its own episode of the recent Showtime series Roadies, the show’s creator Cameron Crowe made a couple of boo-boos. Cameron should know better. He toured with Skynyrd in Japan in 1977 and hooked up with the band’s accountant, Marybeth Medley. (Let’s just say that Nancy Wilson was a definite improvement.)
Check out two screenshots. The band’s practice shack, the Hell House, is shown above with a mountain range in the background. In fact, the Hell House was located near an alligator-infested swamp in Green Cove Springs, Florida, the flattest state in the USA. In Cameron’s world, Skynyrd must have been a West Coast act.
Incidentally, the site of the long-gone Hell House is currently being turned into a residential development. It includes a Free Bird Way and a Tuesday’s Cove.
More importantly, Cameron chose not to hire an actor to play the band’s drummer. Skynyrd had two drummers, band co-founder Bob Burns and his successor Artimus Pyle. Both were just as important as Ronnie Van Zant & Co. The rest of the band is portrayed by actors—with varying success. Cameron even cast actors to play tour manager Ron Eckerman, longtime roadie Dean Kilpatrick, and the three backing singers. But no drummer. Very strange. And quite offensive to Artimus and Bob, and to drummers in general.
Furthermore, a fictional roadie relates how he wishes he could have rescued the guys after their plane crashed on October 20, 1977. Well, somebody did. That was Artimus Pyle. His omission from Roadies is a great injustice to the man, and to the historical record. Stay tuned for more info on Artimus’ plans to reveal the true story of Lynyrd Skynyrd, America’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band.