This month marks the 45th anniversary of the 1977 plane crash that killed Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s Ronnie Van Zant and two other band members. The group’s former drummer, Artimus Pyle, says he’s now putting together a star-studded tribute album to commemorate the tragedy.
Pyle, who survived the accident, tells ABC Audio that 17 tracks have been recorded so far for the album, which will feature his solo group, the Artimus Pyle Band, playing classic Lynyrd Skynyrd tunes, along with a bunch of guest artists.
The 74-year-old drummer reveals Sammy Hagar, Gov’t Mule‘s Warren Haynes, Ronnie Dunn of the country duo Brooks & Dunn and Billy Ray Cyrus are contributing to the project.
“Sammy Hagar is singing ‘Simple Man,'” Artimus reports. “He puts his heart and soul into it.”
He adds that Haynes sings “Saturday Night Special,” Dunn performs “Sweet Home Alabama” and Cyrus sings “Call Me the Breeze.”
Pyle has long been estranged from the Lynyrd Skynyrd camp, so perhaps the most surprising news about the tribute is that founding Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington has contributed to a track.
“Gary Rossington plays his iconic slide solo on ‘Free Bird,'” Pyle notes. “I’m on the drum track. So that’s the first time that’s happened in 40 years … Against all odds, Gary and I are on a track together that will be on this new album.”
As for how he feels about his solo band’s renditions of the tunes, Pyle says, “Only we could play them with the ferocity and the fervor that we play these songs with.”
Artimus says the Skynyrd tribute is still in the works and that they may decide to make it a double album, “because who deserves more than Ronnie Van Zandt a double tribute album?”
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