|Birth Day:||July 15, 1948|
|Birth Place:||Louisville, Kentucky, United States|
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Known as Tommy throughout his childhood, Pyle graduated from Eastmoor High School in Columbus, Ohio, in 1966, and studied for a year at Tennessee Technological University, where classmates dubbed him "Artimus" on account of his boyish face. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1968. He was named platoon and series honorman and promoted to private first class after boot camp in San Diego. Eyeing a career in civil aviation, Pyle worked as an avionics mechanic at various military bases, including Millington, Tennessee, and Beaufort, South Carolina, rising to the rank of sergeant. He was honorably discharged in 1971, after his father was killed in a mid-air collision with a U.S. Air Force B-57 weather reconnaissance bomber over New Mexico.
After playing with Thickwood Lick in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Pyle joined Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1974 after being convinced by Brian Pruitt. He initially played alongside, and then replaced, original drummer Bob Burns. He made his recording debut in August of that year on "Saturday Night Special", which became the first single from the band's third album, Nuthin' Fancy. In addition to Nuthin' Fancy, Pyle also played on the albums Gimme Back My Bullets, One More from the Road, Street Survivors, Legend, Southern by the Grace of God and Lynyrd Skynyrd 1991.
Pyle was known as "the wild man of Southern rock" for his antics. During a gig in New Jersey in 1977, he jumped into the crowd to quell a disturbance. The band's singer, Ronnie Van Zant, quipped, "We keep him in a cage and feed him raw meat, only let him out when it's time to play." During a gig in London, England, he was lowered to the stage by a trapeze rope while hallucinating on mescaline. Despite such stunts, Pyle was relatively even-keeled compared to his raucous bandmates, and spent much of his time trying to defuse chaos caused by excessive drug and alcohol intake.
On January 13, 1979, the surviving members of Lynyrd Skynyrd reunited for Charlie Daniels' fifth annual Volunteer Jam concert in Nashville. They played an instrumental version of "Free Bird". Bassist Leon Wilkeson watched from the wings because he was still unable to play.
In 1982, Pyle began recording and touring with the Artimus Pyle Band (A.P.B.), including Darryl Otis Smith, John Boerstler, Steve Brewington, and Steve Lockhart. A.P.B.'s albums include A.P.B. (1981), Nightcaller (1983) and Live from Planet Earth (2000).
Pyle took part in the Skynyrd Tribute tour and joined the reformed Lynyrd Skynyrd in recording Lynyrd Skynyrd 1991 before departing the band during a show in Toronto on August 2, 1991. In a radio interview with Rick Lewis and Michael Floorwax on The FOX in Denver, Colorado, on the 20th anniversary of the crash, Pyle said, "I left the band in 1991 basically because there was a problem with drugs and alcohol and I felt as though we should have put all that stuff behind us years and years ago."
In 1993, Pyle was charged with attempted capital sexual battery and lewd assault on two girls. He denied the charges, claiming the girls had been abused by people connected to babysitters in a Jacksonville mobile home park who held a grudge against him. Moreover, he claimed the allegations were an attempt to extort money from the Lynyrd Skynyrd organization. Weeks before the trial was due to start in January 1994, Pyle pleaded no contest rather than risk a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment if found guilty in a jury trial. He was sentenced to probation and required to register as a sex offender. In 2007, Pyle was charged with failure to register as a sex offender in St. Johns County, Florida, after officials lost the change-of-address form he had sent them when he and his family moved to North Carolina. He rejected a plea bargain offer, and was acquitted by a jury in 2009.
In 2004, Pyle recorded four studio tracks on Southern Rock band Rambler's album First Things First with vocalist Pat Terranova, guitarist Mitch Farber, bassist Willy Lussier and acoustic guitarist and vocalist Rikki Cuccia. In 2007, he toured with the band Deep South, whose lineup also included Wet Willie vocalist Jimmy Hall and former Atlanta Rhythm Section members Robert Nix and Dean Daughtry.
Both Pyle and his predecessor, Bob Burns, performed with the current version of Lynyrd Skynyrd following the band's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.
Following the crash, Pyle spent three years living in Jerusalem, studying at the Diaspora Yeshiva. The yeshiva was known for attracting spiritual seekers from the hippie and counterculture movements, whether they were Jewish or not. Many of the students were professional or semi-professional musicians. Pyle played with the house band, the Diaspora Yeshiva Band, during informal gatherings, and formed a band called Remez with fellow student Rabbi Karmi Ingber. When he departed, he donated his drum kit to the yeshiva. Pyle reflected on these years in the song "I Live in Jerusalem" on a 2007 solo album. In an interview with the Lucas H. Gordon Show posted online in 2013, Pyle is asked why he went to Israel for three years, to which he replied, "I was trying to become a human being."
In 2007, Pyle released the album Artimus Venomus on Storm Dog Records Group/Cleopatra Records. Several of the tunes referenced his personal tribulations, including "Blood Sucking Weasel Attorneys" and "Dead Rock Stars, Widows, Gigolos, Pocket Money." Guests included Ed King and former Lynyrd Skynyrd backing singers Jo Jo Billingsley and Leslie Hawkins.
In 2014, Pyle was a guest performer on Eli Cook's album, Primitive Son.
In June 2017, Pyle was sued by Ronnie Van Zant's widow, Judy Van Zant, Gary Rossington, current Lynyrd Skynyrd singer Johnny Van Zant, and the representatives and heirs of Allen Collins and Steve Gaines. They claimed his involvement in a low-budget feature film about the band's plane crash infringed upon a consent decree the band agreed to in 1988. In October 2017, Pyle was going to publish his memoir, "Street Survivor: Keeping the Beat in Lynyrd Skynyrd", cowritten with journalist Dean Goodman, through Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard. However, the lawsuit kept the book from being published indefinitely.
He also wrote the film Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash which premiered in 2020, after a legal dispute which included a 2017 injunction attempting to stop production.
Currently, Artimus Pyle is 73 years, 10 months and 3 days old. Artimus Pyle will celebrate 74th birthday on a Friday 15th of July 2022.
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