Former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle's unauthorized movie about the 1977 plane crash that killed three bandmates and others has been halted in court.
New York U.S. District Court Judge Robert W. Sweet ruled that Pyle's involvement in Street Survivor: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash, is illegal due to a 1987 consent order that prohibits any band member from participating in a Skynyrd-related project without the consent of the surviving members of the group's pre-crash era.
Pyle, who left Skynyrd in 1991, was reportedly being paid five percent of the film's net income to be an active consultant on the project; Guitarist Gary Rossington, the sole surviving founding member still playing in Skynyrd, and the families of frontman Ronnie Van Zant and Steve and Cassie Gaines, who died in the crash, sued to block the project.
The plaintiffs acknowledged the Cleopatra Films was free to make the movie but not to do so "in concert and participation with Pyle in violation of the restrictions imposed on him by the consent order."
Judge Sweet sided with that argument, writing in a 64-page ruling that, "Cleopatra's consultations with Pyle were important...There is also no doubt that the film is a film about the Lynyrd Skynyrd band...none of the defendants received the requisite authorization under the terms of the consent order in depiction of Van Zant or Gaines or in the use of the Lynyrd Skynyrd name -- and therefore have violated the consent order."
There's no word on whether Cleopatra will appeal the ruling.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.