In late October, 1977, I interviewed drummer Artimus Pyle in Mississippi following the crash of the charter plane that was carrying the Jacksonville based rock band, Lynyrd Skynyrd to Baton Rouge for a concert. Six people on the plane died, including the band's lead vocalist and principal songwriter, Ronnie Van Zant.
Four other members of the band Gary Rossington, Allen Collins, Leon Wilkeson, and Billy Powell were hospitalized with serious injuries.
Artimus, who'd been with the band since 1974, was treated for broken ribs. When we met all those years ago, he told me he is simply, "a survivor."
As the 35th anniversary of the crash approaches, I spoke to Artimus by phone from his home in North Carolina. When I asked him how he's doing, he repeated what he said to me in 1977, "Tom, I am a survivor."
This member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will be in Jacksonville on Saturday to mark the 35th anniversary of the plane crash that decimated the band and changed his life forever. He, along with Michael Sean Allman and other special guests will play music and honor the memory of those who died in the crash and band members who have died since the crash.
The show will be held 4 p.m. at Bewsters Megaplex, 845 University Blvd. N. Doors open at 3 p.m. and tickets cost $15.