Artimus Pyle, the drummer during Lynyrd Skynyrd's classic years in the 1970s, announced plans to make a biopic on the band entitled Street Survivors: The True Story of The Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash last year. The current band and the families of those killed in the 1977 plane crash are taking Pyle to court to try and stop the movie from being made. On October 20th, 1977, the band's plane crashed into a heavily forested area, killing lead singer Ronnie Van Zandt, guitar player Steve Gaines, and backup singer Cassie Gaines. The accident came just three days after the release of their album Street Survivors, which pictured the band surrounded by flames. After the crash MCA, Records changed the cover to remove the flames out of respect to the band and families.
As previously reported, Artimus Pyle announced his intention on making a biopic entitled Freebird (the band's most iconic song), but changed it to Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash after he received a cease and desist order. Pyle has also stated that he is not able to use any of the band's music in the unauthorized biopic. Pyle has stated that he intends to make a movie about the plane crash as well as about his relationship with Ronnie Van Zandt.
Rolling Stone reports that Lynyrd Skynyrd's lone surviving original member, guitarist Gary Rossington, along with Van Zandt's younger brother Johnny and the estates of the other band members are trying to stop the production from happening at all. Rossington and crew are citing a 1988 consent order that bars any individual member from telling a story that "purports to be the history of the Lynyrd Skynyrd band."
The lawsuit also states that Artimus "Pyle is free to exploit his own personal life story" while alleging that the movie may "contain a potentially inaccurate or skewed portrayal of Lynyrd Skynyrd's story as filtered solely through the eyes of Pyle masquerading as the "True Story" of a defining moment in the band's history." Apparently the movie has already started production with a full cast and crew, but one has to wonder why Pyle would make a movie about Lynyrd Skynyrd without the use of the band's music. The unauthorized Jimi Hendrix biopic starring Andre 3000 suffered the same fate and fell flat, getting torn apart by critics and hardly seen by anyone except for die-hard fans who also eviscerated it.
The surviving members and family took part in the 2015 documentary Lynyrd Skynyrd - Gone With the Wind and it was evident that, nearly 40 years after the crash that the band was still deeply shaken by the traumatic experience. Pyle has said on numerous occasions that he wasn't often comfortable talking about the experience, but he has since written books and talked about the experience many times over the years through interviews. Though nobody really knows, it sure seems like a cash grab to coincide with an upcoming book on the part of Pyle, which is just plain sad.