“STREET SURVIVORS”— The Legend Continues

“STREET SURVIVORS”

The Legend Continues

Amos Lassen

The impressive new edition of “Street Survivors” comes to us as a three-disc set— Blu-ray, DVD and soundtrack CD. The story of Lynyrd  Skynyrd has come to us over the years in various documentaries but this is something new and different. It is not only the story of the plane crash which broke the bad apart, it is also the story of Artimus Pyle and his personal relationship with Ronnie Van Zant and how the two men loved each other like brothers. Withdrama period-correct costuming by Lisa Norcia and set design by Eve McCarney along  with strong performances by its cast of unknown actors, we go beyond documentaries and talking heads. We are inside the plane and watch the story unfold—and this is much different than being told what happened. Emotionally, this is a rough movie to watch. Ian Michael Shultis as Artimus Pyle is excellent and  Taylor Clift as Ronnie Van Zant (who does his own vocals on the classics) is amazing as is the rest of the cast.

Following a concert at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium in Greenville, South Carolina, the band boarded a two-prop plane bound for Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where they were scheduled to appear at LSU the following night. The crashed just three days after the release of their fifth album, “Street Survivors.”  Pyle not only survived the crash that claimed the life of the band’s founder and frontman Ronnie Van Zant (along with guitarist Steve Gaines and his sister, back-up singer Cassie Gaines), he also physically pulled the remaining survivors out of the wreckage before struggling to get to the nearest farmhouse to seek help.

The aftermath of the crash became typical of the rock ‘n’ roll business: Artimus had joined the band upon the recording of their third album and wasn’t “under contract” with the record company and therefore he was responsible for his own medical bills. When the FAA discovered “drugs” (proved to be vials of legal ginseng extract) in Pyle’s recovered luggage, they called in the DEA and threatened to charge Pyle with drug trafficking.

I knew about the crash but I didn’t know what life was like for the group, their music and what happened after the crash to the members left behind. Here is that story as told by Artimus Pyle. We see his passion for music, what it was like for him to join the talented group and the antics that were a part of life on the road. We also see the passion for the fans and the connection the band shared through music. We really see the heart of someone who was part of something that seemed to be bigger than life. The film gives us a new layer of understanding why the group’s music continues to live on.

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