Former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle is working on an “incredibly personal and passionate” film about the band.
Pyle is working on a script with director Jared Cohn, with Cleopatra Films onboard to produce the as-yet-untitled movie.
Pyle says the film will feature his recollections of the 1977 plane crash that killed frontman Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, vocalist Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray.
He tells Deadline: “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 10 more years.
“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.”
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Pyle – who is also working on his autobiography – left the band in 1991 in the midst of a legal battle with Van Zant’s widow Judy over rights to the Lynyrd Skynyrd name.
In 1993, Pyle pleaded guilty to attempted sexual battery and lewd assault on two girls in California. He has always maintained his innocence, with a family member saying he only pleaded guilty to avoid a lengthy prison sentence. He was given probation by the court.
Pyle hopes to begin filming this year and it’s not clear whether he’ll have the rights to use the band’s music in the soundtrack.