Artimus Pyle on his friend Allen Woody,
the new APB album and life in general
by Michael Buffalo Smith
Hi Artimus. I’d like to begin this second interview by asking you to share with your fans a little about how you knew the late Allen Woody, perhaps share some special memories. He told me in an interview last year that you played a vital role in introducing him to the Allmans.
I has honored to read in the New York Times that Allen had kind of credited me with his opportunity to join the Allmans. Allen and I were brothers -- neither one of us had a brother -- so we adopted each other. He was different kind of character and so am I. We played music together in APB from Nashville to Jerusalem. I believed in Allen totally and he believed in me. When a lot of people lost faith in me Allen knew the truth and remained a loyal friend. We had a long talk a month before his death; we spoke about our children, upcoming musical projects and life in general. He patiently listened while I vented and then asked me to play some shows with Gov’t Mule as guest percussionist. He ended our two-hour conversation with his usual “Love Ya Man!” and I told him that I loved him, too.
Tell us about the unreleased APB songs featuring Allen.
It is entitled All Points Bulletin, Unlikely Angels that features Allen Woody on bass. We recorded nine tracks at Butch Trucks’ studios, Pegasus in Tallahassee, Florida back in the late '80s. This was before Allen joined the Brothers. The line up is Allen Woody on bass, Kenny Zaridier on keyboards, Sam Stafford on guitar, Marc Stein on vocals and I played all drum tracks. It is beautiful music and no one has ever heard these songs. Billy Ray Cyrus and I are writing a new song plus one already written with Ed King that Allen played on. All proceeds will benefit the Savannah Woody Educational Fund.
Please tell us about the One For Woody show held in New York September 21st.
Allen touched many people and this has never been more evident than it was Thursday night, September 21, 2000 in NYC at Roseland Ballroom at the “One For Woody” benefit for the Savannah Woody Educational Fund in memory of Allen Woody. I had a horrendous flying experience (and I hate to fly) that included an emergency landing in Greensboro, NC but was able to share the experience with fans of Allen’s who were en route from Louisiana to NYC just for the show. They recognized me and knew just where I was headed! The concert was like the old days. Allen would have loved it. Everyone wearing tie-dye, incense burning, a true feeling of comaradery with the players who were all there for Allen. The whole night was like a flashback to the sixties with peace and love as the purpose of the party. You can view the webcast at the following link where there are instructions for making donations for Savannah’s Educational Fund.
What band members play on the new APB cd?
Myself, Greg Baril, Tim Lindsey and Mike Estes. Greg Baril, on guitars and vocals, is a phenomenal guitarist and inspires me because he plays with passion. His powerful playing on the live CD electrifies the songs and gives the music a blues edge. We shared a mutual friend, by the way, Stevie Ray Vaughn. He toured with Stevie Ray as well as B.B. King. Tim Lindsey, on bass -- I have played with many great bass players, including Allen Woody. Tim’s five string bass style is like a machine but he tempers that with tremendous feel. He never misses a lick. He holds down the bottom while inferring a McCartney-ish melody. Also, Tim is a hard working, good human being and fun to be around. Mike Estes, guitar and vocals. Artimus Pyle, drums...I enjoy playing drums at this point in my life as much as I ever have, which is immeasurable.
What songs were performed?
We did some Ronnie Van Zant, a little Stevie Ray Vaughn, some traditional blues and some originals.
There has been a lot of talk about your sons’ band. Please give us the details on their group and what’s going on with them.
My sons, Chris and Marshall, have a band called Tribolotomee that has been together for many years now. Kind of a drum thing, mostly. But Marshall Pyle, now 24, has the gift of song. His words are deep and his mind is sharp and he writes about important social and intergalactic issues. It’s like he just blossomed one day and all these beautiful, poignant songs began pouring from his soul. The music of Tribolotomee has influences from Frank Zappa, Miles Davis, Bob Marley and many of the modern groove sounds. It’s all good, baby. Chris Pyle, who is 29, can you believe it, plays drums and I join in when I can with percussion. There is also Dan Brown, from Royal Trux, on bass, Robbie Armstrong on guitar and Eric Nicolino playing keys. They recorded their EP at Ronnie Van Zant’s studio in Jacksonville, Florida. “You’ve still got that smooth ass style”, is one that I especially like. They have been playing all four songs off the CD on a local station, Flagler College Radio, 88.5. Everyone is talking about the band around town, they are definitely a hit. It makes me so proud to see my two sons playing music together in the true spirit of music, playing from the heart. Ronnie, Steve, Cassie and Allen loved Chris and Marshall very much and would also be very proud of their music.
October 20 is the anniversary of the plane crash, one of the saddest days in rock history. Your thoughts?
Some day I will write about the plane crash at length in my book, but for now suffice it to say that it is a hard day for everybody. For me especially at sunset...
What’s this about the Florida Museum of History doing a Skynyrd exhibit?
The exhibit is called “Follow That Dream” Florida’s Rock & Roll Legends and it will run from October 20, 2000 - June 3, 2001 at the Museum of Florida History - Main Gallery in Tallahassee.
(Taken from the Museum of Florida History Press Release)
“Follow that Dream” will feature fantastic musical artifacts once used by Lynyrd Skynyrd, a band straight out of Jacksonville that possessed perhaps the best hard-driving southern rock sound during the 1970s. Visitors will see lead singer Ronnie Van Zant’s white concert hat, complete with rattlesnake trim, plus the microphone that he strutted with on stage. Also featured will be Allen Collins’ Gibson Explorer along with the Stratocaster that Steve Gaines used to mesmerize huge concert audiences with all over the country. And these are just some items from the early Skynyrd days. In more recent years the band’s personalities have changed and the exhibit covers that territory, too. On exhibit will be Hughie Thomasson’s (former member of the Outlaws) black Strat and hat used during many of his performances. The exhibit will also include Rickey Medlocke’s (former member of Blackfoot) Firebird.
What other projects are you involved with?
Well, we’ve already talked about Tribolotomee and then there is the new Fenwick CD that has Christopher Chappell Pyle, Marshall Daniel Pyle, Artimus Thomas Delmar Pyle, Misty Liberty Pyle and Kelly Lucille Pyle are all on this CD in one fashion or another (Misty and Kelly say spoken passages). I am working on a solo project that I have been writing and collecting songs for over the years. This is one that I must sing every song myself. These are songs about my children, songs about the last ten years and how I feel about my band, Lynyrd Skynyrd. The CD and title track is called, “Blood Sucking Weasel Attorneys”. This will be a tongue-in-cheek, Beatle-esque production type of autobiographical CD. I promise you I will be working very hard on this one over the next year. We’ve also got another APB CD that is dedicated to the late Allen Woody that we discussed earlier.
How is everyone in your family doing? How is little River?
River is already 15 months. The time really flies when you watch a baby grow over a year. WOW! He is running, spinning in circles, always wants to be outside, curious about everything, dancing to all music (even the National Anthem playing on TV for the Olympics). An amazing little person that is just happy about life. I get so emotional just trying to describe how much I love him. I am so lucky to have such beautiful healthy children.
What’s next for you and APB?
APB is currently rehearsing new original material, moving in a new direction with the same motivation and love of the music that we’ve had over the last twenty years.
Update: Artimus is working with his band APB/All Points Bulletin, as well as in the all-star group Deep South. His new solo album is called Artimus Venomous, and is a must for all Artimus fans and Skynyrd collectors.