Many called him the "Wild Man" of the rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd, but Artimus Pyle started out more as a "Country Man." Thomas Delmar Pyle was born on July 15, 1948, in Louisville, KY. He spent many of his childhood hours either on the back of a horse or behind the controls of a bulldozer.
When Pyle was nine years old, his mother bought his first musical instruments, some bongos. Three years later his father got him a used set of drums. It wasn't long before young Pyle had put together his first band, the Thom Thumbs.
In the late '60s, fresh out of high school, Pyle joined the Marine Corps. He was in training to be sent overseas when the Vietnam War ended. As soon as his enlistment was up, Pyle returned his attention to music and education, taking up the drums again and enrolling in the Tennessee Technical College. This was the place where he went from being Thomas Pyle to Artimus Pyle, teasingly giving the nickname after the virgin Artimus.
In the early '70s, Pyle landed gigs in bands like Charlie Daniels' and the Marshall Tucker Band. With a little help from Daniels, Pyle got to show off his talents to Ronnie Van Zant, performing with the Lynyrd Skynyrd band in Jacksonville at the Sergeant Pepper's Club. At the end of 1974, when founding member Bob Burns parted from Skynyrd, it was Pyle who was called in to fill his shoes. He toured with the band, recording a number of albums, up till 1977, when a plane crash instantly snuffed out the lives of three members, Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and his sister Cassie. Road manager Dean Kilpatrick was also killed.
Pyle and other members survived the terrible crash, but the band didn't. Pyle, never one to call it quits, went on with his music the best he could. In 1981 he put together the A.P.B. with members like Darryl Otis Smith, John Boerstler, and Steve Lockhart. The A.P.B. is sometimes called the Artimus Pyle Band, sometimes All Points Bulletin. A year later, the group released a debut album, A.P.B., under the MCA Records label. Some of the tracks fans will find on this offering are "It Ain't the Whiskey," "Rock and Roll Each Other," and "She's My Baby." In 1983, the band released a second album, Nightcaller.
Four years later, Pyle joined the Skynyrd Tribute Tour, and even recorded another Skynyrd album in 1991 before leaving the group. A concert set, Live from Planet Earth, by the Artimus Pyle Band was issued in 2000, and after a 24-year hiatus, a new studio album, Artimus Venomus, appeared in 2007 on Cleopatra Records.
There is a second generation of Pyles making progress in the world of music. Artimus Pyle's two oldest sons: drummer, singer, guitarist, and songwriter Marshall Daniel Pyle and older brother Christopher Chapel Pyle, who can play the trumpet, flute, guitar, and of course the drums. ~ Charlotte Dillon