Hurricane Lili gave farm owner Johnny Mote fits just before his Southern Tribute concert Saturday
October 5, 2002. Artimus Pyle, long time drummer for the band Lynyrd Skynyrd who's plane crashed
near the Motes property 25 years before, got knocked down quite few musical notches. It happened when personnel with headliner Travis Tritt told property owner Johnny Mote and promoter Arden Barnett that neither Pyle nor the other bands lined up to pay tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd, could play on the professional stage. It meant Pyle, the musician ran from the plane wreckage through the very field
on which he was playing, had to put his show together on a flatbed trailer at the last minute. Pyle and his band expected to play on the stage before Travis Tritt. "The professionals say we can't play on that stage" Pyle jeered. And, adding insult to injury, the drummer said Tritt's band threw Pyle's equipment from the stage. Tritt's band was the only one that didn't include songs in tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Many people, including Artimus Pyle believed that Judy Van Zant Jenness was behind many of the problems that went wrong during the day. She is the widow of the late Skynyrd singer Ronnie Van Zant. Others performing at the concert were Jay B. Elston, Russell Walker (whose show was cut short) and the Jimmie Van Zant Band. Molly Hatchet pulled out. This was the first time Pyle had been back to the Gillsburg site, and it was an emotional experience for him. "I'm here to honor the memory of Ronnie Van Zant, Steve and Cassie Gaines, Dean Kilpatrick, and the pilot and co-pilot who died here". He spoke of the feeling he had for the band members at the crash site as he ran for help. "My friends were dying; every drop of blood was a second" he said. "Cassie was one of the strongest women, I know. I was sitting right behind her. She died I didn't. Pyle's playlist, with one exception was all Skynyrd. But before it ended, he cut it short and announced that Tritt's band was threatening to pull the sound on him. He
finished the set and ended with a crowd sing-along of a couple of "Freebird" verses. An anxious group of
well-wishers rolled right past security officers, and Pyle signed autograph's, patient with each person.
Of the current Lynyrd Skynyrd band, only two original members remain; keybordist Billy Powell and guitarist Gary Rossington. Jimmie Van Zant, a cousin of the late Skynyrd frontman, made a toast to his
cousin and others who died at the nearby site with a bottle of Jack Daniels, then tossed the bottle out
into the crowd. "The thing at Johnny's farm was for closure", Pyle said.
VIDEO: Artimus Pyle on the 40th Anniversary from Nashville Tennessee. A plane crash killed the lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1977, and 40 years later, the drummer for Lynyrd Skynyrd, Artimus Pyle, can still remember that day. He recalled the plane crash and
the effort afterwards to get help, which included him saying that he got shot by the first person he found.
Video from Nashville's News Channel 5 & YouTube.
This page was created by Pat Adams in Nashville Tennessee, with the help of Jacquelyn Cooper
in Gillsburg Mississippi (plane crash scene). Thanks to Jacquelyn for the Newspaper and Pictures!
Nashville, Tennessee, United States
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