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Lynyrd Skynyrd Are Trying to Stop Former Drummer’s Unauthorized Biopic

Lynyrd Skynyrd
Stephen Lovekin, Getty Images / MCA Records

Lynyrd Skynyrd don’t want their former drummer to complete an unauthorized biopic about the band.

Artimus Pyle, who was with Lynyrd Skynyrd during their classic-lineup period in the ’70s, announced plans for a movie that was to be called Free Bird last year. He was met with quick resistance from ex-bandmates and the families of those killed in the group’s 1977 plane crash.

Pyle has already changed the name of the film to Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash, after he received a cease-and-desist order. A member of Lynyrd Skynyrd from 1974-77, and then again in their early reunion era from 1987-91, Pyle also confirmed that he had been stopped from using his old band’s music in the movie.

Now, the band’s lone remaining original member, Gary Rossington; along with singer Johnny Van Zant, brother of the band’s late original singer Ronnie Van Zant; and the estates of other bandmates have filed suit to stop the production in its entirety, citing a 1988 consent order that bars any individual member from presenting a story that “purports to be a history of the ‘Lynyrd Skynyrd’ band.” The Manhattan court action is also aimed at Cleopatra Records, which is co-producing the film.

In the suit, they state that Pyle is “free to exploit his own personal life story” for the movie, according to Rolling Stone, but that Street Survivors shouldn’t go forward because it “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.”

Last year, while discussing the biopic in its early stages, Pyle said “the film’s story — my story — is not just about the plane crash but also about my personal relationship with the genius that was Ronnie Van Zant.”

A court date of July 11 has been set.

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