‘Road Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Aircraft Crash’ Dramatically Reenacts Fateful 1977 Catastrophe

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Road Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Aircraft Crash

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It’s among the many most tragic tales in rock n’ roll, a legendary band struck down of their prime, dropping a number of members; to not misadventure however malfeasance. On October 20, 1977, the passenger aircraft carrying Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd crashed whereas on tour, killing lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, backing vocalist Cassie Gaines, highway supervisor Dean Kilpatrick and pilots Walter McCreary and William Grey. Simply days earlier, the band had launched their fifth studio album, Road Survivors, its cowl that includes {a photograph} of the band members engulfed in flames.

Road Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Aircraft Crash recounts the accident and its aftermath with all of the subtlety of true crime present dramatic reenactment. It’s primarily based on the primary individual account of former Skynyrd drummer and crash survivor Artimus Pyle and was directed by prolific direct-to-video filmmaker Jared Cohn. Pyle pops out and in of the movie, including particulars and asides whereas actors in interval clothes and unhealthy wigs replay the occasions as they occurred.  The movie, which was launched this week, is presently obtainable for hire or buy on numerous streaming providers.

We journey again in time, to 1974, the place actor Ian Shultis performs the younger Artimus. Not but a member of the band, he’s requested to audition at a membership in Atlanta however his van dies on the freeway and he should run relay with completely different items of drum {hardware}. After organising and bashing away on the drums, actor Taylor Clift as Van Zant turns to highway supervisor Kilpatrick, performed by Mark Valeriano, and says, “We discovered him.”

Flash ahead to October 1977 and Skynyrd taking the stage as appreciative groupies flash their breasts. Afterwards, they retire to a resort the place there’s extra gratuitous nudity, a lot of medicine and random violence. Although Van Zant’s status as a unstable powerful man was apparently effectively earned, he was additionally an insightful lyricist, in a position to sing about life, love and loss with a standard contact and a present for element. You don’t get a lot of that, nonetheless, from Clift’s portrayal, which reduces him to a one-dimensional douchey rock star.

“What a bit of junk,” one of many band members says upon first seeing the CV-240 passenger plane  that will carry them to their doom. The aircraft was 30 years previous on the time and had beforehand been rejected as a tour automobile for rockers Aerosmith. Co-pilot John Gray (in actual life, William Grey), performed by Will David Jorden, tells the assembled entourage, “I simply wish to say that each one my life all I’ve ever dreamed of doing was flying an enormous rig with rock stars so after this I’ll be capable to die a cheerful man.” Gray is the movie’s villain, who seals their destiny along with his incompetence.

Although a pre-flight brunch and airstrip farewells are overplayed for dramatic impact, there’s no denying the gravity as we watch Skynyrd board their remaining flight. The band was flying from Greenville, South Carolina, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the place they have been scheduled to play on the evening of October 20th. In voiceover, Pyle tells us Van Zant didn’t suppose he’d stay to 30. “He was 29 when he was killed. He advised me that he wished to exit along with his boots on.”

Whereas the band members play playing cards and nurse hangovers, issues go from unhealthy to worse within the cockpit. Because the pilots understand they don’t have sufficient gasoline to make their vacation spot, the engines give out. They seek for a touchdown website and ultimately crashed within the woods round Gillsburg, Mississippi. Because the aircraft makes its descent, Van Zant grabs a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and says, “Yet one more for the highway gents?,” name-checking the band’s stay album from the earlier 12 months. As they’re about to crash, a flock of birds fly by. , like, free birds? It’s a bit corny.

The aircraft was ripped into items throughout affect. Pyle emerged from its mangled cabin bloodied and battered however mustered the power to search for assist, saving the lives of his grievously injured bandmates and highway crew within the course of. A subsequent investigation by the Nationwide Transit Security Board would decide the aircraft misplaced energy “as a result of crew inattention to gasoline provide.” Although Pyle was a part of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s preliminary 1987 reunion, he left the band in 1991. The movie concludes with him taking part in to an appreciative membership viewers with the Artimus Pyle Band and grateful for his time in one in every of rock’s most legendary artists.
The unhealthy blood between Lynyrd Skynyrd’s former members is known. “There have been many variations and accounts and contradictions of this story, however I used to be there,” Pyle even says at one level. In truth, sole authentic Lynyrd Skynyrd member Gary Rossington and the households of Ronnie Van Zant and the Gaineses sued to halt manufacturing of the film and initially gained an injunction in opposition to the movie, which was overturned in 2018, in response to The New York Instances.
Road Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Aircraft Crash is form of price range and form of foolish and form of exploitative. It’s additionally fairly entertaining and Pyle’s intentions appear earnest, as does his love for the group and his fallen bandmates. “That is greater than a narrative concerning the aircraft crash,” he says early within the movie. “It’s concerning the music of Lynyrd Skynyrd, the best Southern rock band of all time.”

Benjamin H. Smith is a New York primarily based author, producer and musician. Observe him on Twitter:@BHSmithNYC
Stream Road Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Aircraft Crash on Prime Video

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