When it came to the Allman Brothers band – he played on everything. They were the quintessential Southern-Rock band even though Gregg disliked that tag.
His management confirmed his death today saying, Allman “passed away peacefully at his home in Savannah, Georgia, Gregg struggled with many health issues over the past several years. During that time, Gregg considered being on the road playing music with his brothers and solo band for his beloved fans, essential medicine for his soul. Playing music lifted him up and kept him going during the toughest of times.”
He was born Gregory LeNoir Allman on December 8, 1947 in Nashville, Tennessee. He was always the main vocalist and composer.
For many years this group had the The Three Musketeers motto, “All for one and one for all.” They lived together, played and traveled together and partied together which certainly helped at the groups inception in 1969 when they were starving, malnourished and looking for their audience. They still stayed up all night raising hell. When they weren’t practicing it was party time.
Duane’s vision was to have a “different” band with two lead guitarists and two drummers. They even toyed with calling themselves Beelzebub.
Those first two Allman Brothers Band LP’s, the self-titled debut from 1969 and 1970’s “Idlewild South” were not big hits at first even though there classic tunes on both. The first had “Whipping Post” which Rolling Stone magazine called an “enduring anthem … rife with tormented blues-ballad imagery” and it also contained Muddy Waters classic “Trouble No More.” “Idlewild South” had “Midnight Rider” which Gregg Allman called, “the song I’m most proud of in my career.” It also featured a future concert mainstay, “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” a jazz flavored groovy instrumental.
These architects of southern rock found their commercial footing however on their third. A little light bulb went off for Gregg Allman when he realized that without commercial success the band could still survive as a concert act and their drummers were a huge part on that sound. After all the crowds were building so maybe it was time for a live album?
In July 1971 they released, “At Fillmore East.” It’s considered one of the best live albums of all time and it was a hit on the charts peaking at #13 on the charts. Everything changed after that.
With increased popularity came the usual rock n roll carnage, drugs and booze. Duane Allman, bassist Berry Oakley and a few of their roadies went into rehab.
The bands biggest blow came on October 29, 1971. At 24, Duane Allman, was killed in a motorcycle accident. On deciding the future of the band Trucks said, “We all had this thing in us and Duane put it there. He was the teacher and he gave something to us—his disciples—that we had to play out.”
“Eat a Peach” did feature Duane and was dedicated to him and reached #5 on the Billboard charts. It feature the gorgeous tune, “Melissa” that was originally thought to be too soft for the group. Gregg wrote it in 1967 and would later play it at Duane’s funeral. Then bassist Berry Oakley was killed in another motorcycle accident a few blocks from where Duane died. They are buried side-by-side.
Interestingly they called their next project “Brothers and Sisters” even though the family atmosphere in the band was fading fast via drugs and arguments. It did feature, “Ramblin’ Man their only top 10 hits it was their only #1 album.
Melissa Ethridge said today, “My southern-rock heart is breaking,” Brad Paisley tweeted “What a legacy @GreggAllman leaves behind. Jam on in the great hereafter.”and Keith Urban’s said, “My heart breaks today at the passing of soul brutha Gregg Allman. Blessings and peace to all the Allman family.” Ringo Starr said, “Rest in peace Greg Allman peace and love to all the family.”
Just last January Allman Brothers Drummer Butch Trucks died from suicide – He was also 69.At that time, Gregg said, “I’m heartbroken, I’ve lost another brother, and it hurts beyond words. Butch and I knew each other since we were teenagers, and we were band-mates for over 45 years. He was a great man and a great drummer, and I’m going to miss him forever. Rest in peace, Brother Butch.” – by John Beaudin
John Beaudin has been in major market radio (Edmonton, Vancouver & Calgary) for 33 years and a music journalist since 1989. He graduated from Broadcasting school as a news man so he would have the skills to write about the artists that inspired him since he bought his first album, “Madman Across The Water” by Elton John as a teen. In the 80’s Beaudin was the host of the syndicated radio show “The Cross Canada Report” which had two version (Rock and A/C). Beaudin was also asked to be a judge at the Juno Awards (Canada’s answer to the Grammys) Twice. He has anchored every position in radio including morning and afternoon drive and was a Program and Music Director for The Breeze and California 103 in Calgary. He currently hosts the popular Lovesongs at QM-FM in Vancouver and on iHeartRadio.