Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Jun 29th 2009 5:00PM by James Sullivan
Pyle, an ex-Marine and a Kentucky native who was friendly with the young Al Gore, got his start in rock 'n' roll with boosts from Charlie Daniels and the Marshall Tucker Band before being recommended to Skynyrd. By Pyle's own account, singer Ronnie Van Zant authorized his hiring sight unseen, sending a paper bag filled with $5,000 to recruit the new band member.
He missed few chances to sow his wild oats. On tour in the U.K., Pyle and some of his mates got into a brawl at a London hotel. Their opponents turned out to be members of the Metropolitan Police Boxing Team, and Pyle was carried out unconscious. After the plane crash, he missed an opportunity to join the post-Skynyrd Rossington-Collins Band when he suffered a broken leg in a motorcycle accident. Instead, he formed his own group, the Artimus Pyle Band (APB), which helped launch the career of the late Gov't Mule/Allman Brothers bassist Allen Woody.
Pyle joined the reunited Skynyrd in 1987 but he quit in 1991 after expressing disgust that some of his bandmates were still using hard drugs. Two years later, he was arrested in an incident that was, he claims, a setup. His longtime girlfriend accused him of inappropriate behavior with their two young daughters. "The state never had a case," Pyle said. "Their whole case was, 'We think he touched his children.' I said, 'You're damn right I did. I changed their diapers.'"
Facing life in prison and racking up $500,000 into legal debt, the drummer entered a plea bargain and accepted eight years' probation. The case came back to haunt him in November 2007, when he was arrested twice for failure to register as a sex offender. Meanwhile, he was angry with his former bandmates and Judy Van Zant, the Skynyrd singer's widow. "I was homicidal and suicidal for a couple of years," Pyle recalled.
Despite the falling out, Pyle was part of the Skynyrd lineup inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. Two years ago, he channeled his fury into 'Artimus Venomus,' an album partly inspired by his old friend Frank Zappa. Songs included 'Blood-Sucking Weasel Attorneys' and 'Dead Rock Stars' Widows, Gigolos, Pocket Money.' Now that he's got that out of his system, Pyle continues to tour with a Skynyrd offshoot, Artimus Pyle and the Saturday Night Special Band.