Artimus Pyle Discusses Split With Lynyrd Skynyrd
Since 1991, Artimus Pyle has been estranged from Lynyrd Skynyrd, which he joined in 1975. In a new interview, the drummer said the rift was instigated by Ronnie Van Vant's widow, Judy.
"Judy ... sued us while we were on the  tribute tour," he told Lucas H. Gordon in an interview that you can watch above. "We were on the road making money for Judy and her children -- doing what we should do -- but Judy sued us the whole time, wanting control of the name, which she didn't deserve. So she got a bunch of sinister, crooked lawyers ... and she got the name. But the judge said there must be three members ... from the plane crash in order to call it Lynyrd Skynyrd."
Despite the judge's ruling, the current incarnation of Lynyrd Skynyrd contains only one survivor -- guitarist Gary Rossington -- of the Oct. 20, 1977, plane crash that killed Van Zant, Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines. Pyle takes issue with the notion of the Rossington-fronted band touring under the Skynyrd name.
"Now there's one member -- Gary -- and 10 people they hired yesterday, and they charge $100,000 and call it 'Lynyrd Skynyrd,'" Pyle added. "It's fraud ... but Judy doesn't care if a bunch of monkeys go out onstage."
However, Pyle believes that the main reason for the split with Rossington is business, not personal. "Gary is surrounded by some very sinister people, motivated by money, trying to milk every single penny out of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and they use Gary to do it," he continued. "I love Gary, and Gary loves me. We're brothers, we played for the kings and queens of the world. I saw him at [original keyboardist] Billy [Powell]'s funeral [in 2009], and he hugged me and I hugged him, but they try to keep Gary and I apart, because there's more money for him to steal."