Artimus Pyle, a distinguished Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Member and former drummer for Lynyrd Skynyrd, unveils his tribute album, Anthems - Honoring The Music of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Nearly 47 years after the horrific plane crash that killed Lynyrd Skynyrd leader Ronnie Van Zant, a new album honoring Ronnie and the original Lynyrd Skynyrd band is being released.
I first heard the Artimus Pyle Band in 2020 when he, Dolly Parton, and others raised money to benefit the W.O. Smith Music School and the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation. I met Artemus Pyle in May of 2022 when the former Marine was at an event honoring my ancestor, Lt. Presley O’Bannon.
I was thrilled at the opportunity to speak with Pyle when I found out he was producing a tribute album for one the best southern rock bands on the planet, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Not only that, he has assembled a great collection of country and rock artists to help him pay tribute to the late Ronnie Van Zant and the original band.
Pyle said of friend, Ronnie Van Zant, “You know Ronnie didn't write a bad song. His songs will be still around 1,000 years from now.”
Produced by Dolly’s renowned producer, Kent Wells, Pyle states he got him the “best drum sound I ever had.”
Once they got Dolly on board to sing “Freebird” it opened the door for the likes of Sammy Hagar, Warren Haynes, Ronnie Dunn, Lee Brice, Michael Ray, Chris Janson, Billy Ray Cyrus, LoCash, Jerrod Niemann, Marty Raybon, and Lindsey Ell to sing and play alongside The Artimus Pyle band.
“We got the tracks sounding great, put modern application on the songs, and then brought in these incredible vocalists to honor Ronnie,” Pyle surmised.
He continued, “We didn’t do this to make money. It’s for Lynyrd Skynyrd members who are up in Rock and Roll heaven, the ones who wrote the songs. It’s their children and grandchildren who will benefit from any sales of this album. We did it because of the love of the music.”
One thing that Pyle is especially proud of is that before he passed in 2023, they were able to get original guitarist, Gary Rossington, to play his iconic slide solo on Dolly’s rendition of “Freebird.” On Dolly’s version of her Rockstar record, they could drop in the voice of Ronnie Van Zant. Ronnie’s widow, Judy Van Zant, permitted them to dub his voice in.
Besides Dolly, they have Ronnie Dunn singing “Sweet Home Alabama.” Pyle loved his take on it because Ronnie Dunn has a twang in his voice that is different than Ronnie Van Zant's.
“I loved the way he sang it. It’s authentic, a good match,” he gushed.
I was thrilled, to see Canadian country rocker, Lindsey Ell, cover “Needle and the Spoon.” Pyle was not familiar with the talented guitarist, but he soon learned that she could sing and play.
He advised, “She played the iconic Alan Collins Stratocaster solo on that on ‘Needle in the Spoon.’”
I was proud that she was one of the females chosen to cover a Skynyrd song.
The Artimus Pyle Band is comprised of Jerry Lyda, Scott Raines, Brad Durden, Dave Fowler, and Pyle. They are the basic track on every single song. The song they chose to perform was “The Hunt.” They thought the song was a good fit for their lead singer, Brad Durden. With his barrel-chested baritone and the rest of the band, they did Lynyrd Skynyrd proud with their version of the song.\
I’ve heard the entire album and I assure you that country music fans and Lynyrd Skynyrd fans alike will be thrilled with the final product.
Pyle confirmed, “We had the greatest producer, Kent Wells. I didn’t have any restrictions on me, and I could play those songs the way I wanted, which is wide open. Everyone’s already saying, ‘We love it.’ It’s been very hard against all odds to get it done, but it’s one of the best tribute albums ever.”
You can stream Anthems - Honoring the Music of Lynyrd Skynyrd here.
You can buy copies of the Anthems - Honoring the Music of Lynyrd Skynyrd CD or Vinyl here.
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