Artimus Pyle, the former drummer of the Lynyrd Skynyrd, opened up about the disastrous plane crash which caused his former bandmates’ death and revealed how he survived during an interview on The Eddie Trunk Podcast.
Lynyrd Skynyrd performed at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium on October 20, 1977, three days after releasing their fifth studio album, Street Survivors. The next performance was going to be at Louisiana State University, so the band boarded an airplane that was meant to take them to Baton Rouge.
Near the end of the flight, the plane ran out of fuel. After realizing that the plane had insufficient fuel, the pilots attempted to navigate the plane to a nearby airport yet it was soon realized that the plane was not going to make it. The pilots’ last attempt was an emergency landing, however, the plane crashed and smashed into a large tree, splitting into pieces.
The lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, the guitarist Steve Gaines, the singer, and Steve’s older sister Cassie Gaines alongside Lynyrd Skynyrd’s assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick lost their lives as a result of the plane crash while only 20 people, including the drummer Artimus Pyle, survived.
During a recent interview, drummer Artimus Pyle shared new details of the devastating accident and explained how he survived the plane crash while talking about his new movie Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash. Pyle talked about what exactly happened in the plane during the malfunction and how he and other band members reacted to the horrible incident.
Here is what the former drummer of Lynyrd Skynyrd said about the plane crash:
“When the plane started crashing, Ronnie comes back by me and he’s coming down the aisle, and I thought to myself, ‘Good idea – he’s going to the back of the plane where I think it would be a better chance of surviving a plane crash, any pilot knows that.’
Then just minutes before we actually went into the trees, Ronnie came back up the aisle and stopped right by my seat, and I looked up at Ronnie, and we gave each other to old hippie handshake, not a regular handshake, the old’ thumb-around-thumb hippie handshake, and so Ronnie smiled, this incredible smile, he had a beautiful smile…
I could see, the man knew his destiny – he already told me. When I saw him going back forward, I didn’t think immediately that he wasn’t going to survive, and in his arms, he was carrying a pillow.
There was a crimson, kind of a velvet red pillow that we had onboard the plane – and we shook hands, and it was that Butch Cassidy moment when they jumped off the cliff and said, ‘Oh shit.'”
The interviewer asked if the frontman Ronnie Van Zant truly had a bottle of whiskey in his hands during the plane crash.
Here is how Pyle answered:
“And he walked back to the front of the plane, and to be very honest and answer your question honestly – Ronnie did not have a bottle of Jack Daniels in his hand.
They may have gotten the story from somebody else because he was at the front of the plane, I was over the last lane of the aisle, I don’t know, he may have gotten himself a drink, it’s very probable that he could’ve taken a swig.
We had on board limitless alcohol, beer, Jack Daniel’s… I did not see a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, so Hollywood did a little thing, but it is not out of the purview of truth.”
You can reach the source of the statement here.