‘Free Bird’ will tell story of the band’s demise following fatal plane crash

Lynyrd Skynyrd are to be the subject of a biopic written by the band’s drummer Artimus Pyle.

The film, named Free Bird after the band’s biggest hit, will centre around the plane crash in 1977 which killed their lead singer, Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Steve Gaines.

Pyle has co-written the script with the film’s director Jared Cohn. It’s due to go into production later this year. Also an actor, Cohn’s previous director credits include Little Dead Rotting Hood and Hold Your Breath.

Van Zant and Gaines were killed in a crash following a concert in South Carolina along with backing singer Cassie Gaines, tour manager Dean Kilpatrick and the plane’s pilot and co-pilot after the plane ran out of fuel. The band went on hiatus, before reforming in 1987 with Van Zant’s brother Johnny Van Zant as vocalist.

Pyle, who played with Skynyrd from 1974 until 1999, told Deadline: “The film’s story, which is my story, is not just about the plane crash, but also about my personal relatonship with the genius that was Ronnie Van Zant. I loved him like a brother and still miss him to this day.”

Because the film isn’t an official biopic, it will use music written by Pyle rather than that of Skynyrd, whose five albums before the plane crash include ‘Second Helping’ and ‘Nuthin’ Fancy’. They still tour, and are currently on a US run with Peter Frampton until September.