Craig Stahl

  Music Maker of the Month - Gregg Allman


In 1969 a band based out of Macon, GA. released their first album. The music was steeped in Southern Blues but also mixed Jazz, Psychedelic, and Boogie Rock & Roll. The music featured two drummers, a wildman Bass player, 2 virtuoso lead guitar players, and the Hammond B-3 Organ and thick Southern Blues Vocals of Gregg Allman. The Allman Brothers Band shocked the music world with their eclectic musical stew. NOBODY sounded like they did and crowds were mesmorized by their sound and their incredible jams. Their concerts lasted at least 3 hours and sometimes went all night. 
In 1971 The Brothers released their masterpiece "Live At Fillmore East" The record recorded over two nights really captured their sound and showcased Gregg's bluesy vocals and the blistering guitar work of Dickey Betts and Duane Allman. The band was on top of the world but it had taken them years to get there.          

            Greg and Duane at Military School in Lebanon, TN

Gregg was born in Nashville, TN. on Dec 8th, 1947. His childhood was a mixed bag of tragedy and good times. His father was murdered when he was 2 years old by a hitch hiker and his Mother struggled to raise Gregg and his older Brother Duane. She went back to school full time to get an Accounting degree but as a single mother in the 1950's she had to enroll her boys in military school until she finished college. The boys hated it and lived for their holidays when they could go home. At home Gregg saw a neighbor playing a guitar and he learned a few chords and was hooked. He saved his money and bought a $22 dollar guitar and learned to play. After he and Duane attended a Rock & Roll Review Show at Municipal Auditorium featuring Otis Redding and Jackie Wilson, Duane caught the music fever and begged Gregg to teach him how to play the guitar. The student quickly surpassed the teacher and Duane became a proficient guitar player.

                                 The Allman Joys 1964

  The boys lives changed again when their Mother packed up the family and moved to Daytona Beach, FL. The new surroundings suited the boys as there was sun, surf, girls, and music! They started a band called The Allman Joys and put out a few records. The band gigged at every roadhouse across the Southeast and then they caught on in St. Louis. While appearing in St. Louis they caught the interest of a talent scout from California and they packed up and headed West. Los Angeles was a rude awakening for the boys and they nearly starved to death while they waited for their big break. The Allman Joys morphed into The Hourglass and their Producer tried to turn them into a bubble gum pop act. Duane was so disillusioned with the way their sound was headed, he cussed the Producer out and moved back home.


                                                                   Young Gregg

Gregg stayed in California and finished his contract out and made some really terrible records. Meanwhile Duane had relocated to Muscle Shoals, AL. and was becoming THE studio session player on guitar. His solos spiced up the hits of Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Boz Scaggs, King Curtis and many others. He solos were over the top and the studio cats nicknamed him Skydog.


While Duane was making his mark a studio session player, he was also jamming with many of the better musicians in the Southeast. He put together a great group of players and all they lacked was a singer. Brother Gregg was called and after he bummed a ride across the country, The Allman Brothers Band was formed. The band relocated from Jacksonville, FL. to Macon, GA. and signed with Capricorn Records. Macon became a mecca for this new rock sound based on Southern Blues. Many great bands came out of the Southern Rock era but the top of the heap was always the Allman Brothers who pioneered the sound.
                                      Early Allman Brothers Jam

The Brothers became the most popular band in rock music and just as they reached the pinnacle of popularity and big money, tragedy struck.
Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident on Oct. 29th, 1971 at 24 years of age. His tragic loss shook the band. Duane was the founder, the leader, and the glue that held them together. The band was partially finished with a new record and the band finished it without their leader. They followed Duane's death with the album "Eat A Peach". A year later tragedy struck again and Bassist Barry Oakley was also killed on a motorcycle. They soldiered on and "Brothers and Sisters" became their biggest seller ever. Their popularity soared even higher and they headlined the biggest concert ever held. The show held at Watkins Glen, NY. had a crowd that was well over 600,000 people. The massive crowd dwarfed even Woodstock.


Over the years the band continued to tour and record but the drug and alcohol abuse by all the members broke up the band and caused many problems for them all, but Gregg was the worst of the bunch. Heroin, booze, cocaine and pills tore him down.
The band reformed in the late 1970's for a nice reunion but the 1980's brought more drug and alcohol abuse and some bad records. Gregg was in and out of rehab many times and also in and out of marriages. He was in rehab 18 times and married 6 times, epitomized by his 3 year marriage to Cher. He couldn't whip his demons no matter what he tried. Gregg had a stretch of solo success towards the end of the 1980's with the hit record "I'm No Angel". His music was still great even if his life was not.

                                        Gregg & Cher Glamor Couple 

In 1989 The Allman Brothers got back together again for another run. The addition of Warren Haynes and Allen Woody rejuvinated the original members and some fine new music and great live shows followed. In 1995 the Band was inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The induction was marred by Gregg being too drunk to play well and his acceptance speech was atrocious. He checked into rehab for the 18th time and was finally successful at getting clean and sober.
                                             Gregg and Warren Haynes

The Allman Brothers Band continues to kick butt even after the departure of original guitar player Dickey Betts. Dickey's drinking, and bad shows caused a rift between him and the band and he was fired. Derek Trucks replaced Dickey and the band made some of their best recordings ever. A new generation of "Jam Band" fans discovered The Allman Brothers Band.


Gregg's many years of abuse showed itself again when he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, probably from a dirty needle in the 1970's. He came through a successful Liver transplant in 2010 and his health is improving. So much so, that he recorded his first solo record in 14 years called "Low Country Blues". It is a collection of old blues songs and a new original called "Just Another Rider". Gregg returns to his blues roots where it all began. Gregg Allman has lived many lives, some of it good and some bad. His reputation is also a mix of good and bad, but what can't be argued is his commitment to great music and his feel when singing the blues. 

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