Former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle predicted that Street Survivors, the movie about his experiences surrounding the band’s devastating plane crash in 1977, would become a “cult classic” in time.
The co-founding member said he was proud of the production that premiered at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival in Los Angeles on Feb. 16, despite the fact it was made without his former bandmates’ approval.
Pyle announced his movie plans in 2016, which led to a lawsuit from guitarist Gary Rossington and the estates of Ronnie Van Zant and Steve and Cassie Gaines, who died in the crash. The legal action resulted in a permanent injunction being put in place, preventing Pyle from proceeding; however, that decision was overturned after an appeal in 2018. The final ruling was based on the fact that, even though an agreement prevented any member or former member working on a band-related project without the approval of at least two others, Pyle couldn’t be stopped from sharing his account of events from his own life. He’s heard as the film’s narrator and played onscreen by actor Ian Shultis in the dramatization.
“It was my story, and I didn’t realize it was going to be my story,” Pyle told The Metal Voice at the premiere. “I thought it was going to be more general, but it was basically focused on what happened to me.” Describing the results as “intense,” he added, “I think the movie is going to be a cult classic. … There is also humor and sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. That’s the way it was in the ‘60s and ‘70s.”
He said he was “disappointed” that his former bandmates “didn’t come with me to make a bigger movie, with a bigger budget.” “They chose to try to destroy me rather than come to the table and make a film together,” Pyle noted. “So this is what it turned out to be, and I’m very proud of it. I am proud of the director and … the cast. “
You can watch the interview below.
Pyle took part in Skynyrd’s reunion 10 years after the crash, and remained in the band until 1991, later citing legal and interpersonal problems for his departure.
“The entire time we were doing the movie, we were being sued and we had thousand-dollar-an-hour bloodsucking attorneys coming at us the entire time,” he said. “The director, Jared Cohn, and [production company] Cleopatra Entertainment’s V.P. Tim Yasui and President Brian Perera kept the faith.”
Street Survivors will appear in theaters soon. A home-video and soundtrack release are scheduled for June 30.