Former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle has paid tribute to his late bandmate Gary Rossington, who passed away Sunday at the age of 71. Pyle, who replaced original drummer Bob Burns in 1975, tells Rolling Stone that after hearing the news of Rossington’s death he went back and looked at the final texts they sent to each other.
“I’ve already gone back, looked at them, and read the entire thread between Gary and I,” he tells the mag. “And I will cherish these texts for the rest of my life.”
Talking about the band, Pyle shared, “When Bob, Gary and [singer] Ronnie [Van Zant] got together in Bob’s carport on the west side of Jacksonville, Florida, they put something together that went worldwide.” He added, “Everyone will remember Gary as a road dog, trouper, songwriter, and one of the greatest guitar players that ever lived. He just loved being onstage.”
And while Pyle went on to sue members of Lynyrd Skynyrd over a movie about the band’s 1977 plane crash that killed Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines and others, he says he’s ready to put that in the past. Pyle notes, “I don’t want to ever talk about it again — the music business did not kill our love for the music, it never did. Gary’s place in music history is rock solid. Fly on, fly high, our free bird brother.”
Rossington was the final living member of the original Lynyrd Skynyrd, and with his death Pyle is now the only living Lynyrd Skynyrd member inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the band. “As it turns out, being the last living member of Lynyrd Skynyrd is not all it’s cracked up to be,” Pyle says. “It’s painful, and I’m trying to process it and deal with it.”
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