Gregg Allman, the smoky-voiced B-3-playing Southern rock legend who soldiered on after his sibling’s motorcycle crash nearly derailed the Allman Brothers Band, has died. He was 69.
Allman’s website bears the following message.
It is with deep sadness that we announce that Gregg Allman, a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band, 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.
Gregg’s long time manager and close friend, Michael Lehman said, “I have lost a dear friend and the world has lost a brilliant pioneer in music. He was a kind and gentle soul with the best laugh I ever heard. His love for his family and bandmates was passionate as was the love he had for his extraordinary fans. Gregg was an incredible partner and an even better friend. We will all miss him.”
Gregg is survived by his wife, Shannon Allman, his children, Devon, Elijah Blue, Delilah Island Kurtom and Layla Brooklyn Allman; 3 grandchildren, his niece, Galadrielle Allman, lifelong friend Chank Middleton, and a large extended family. The family will release a statement soon, but for now ask for privacy during this very difficult time.
Late in life, Allman acknowledged his own role in these mounting physical maladies. “My generation, we were all just such heavy drug takers,” he told Stuff in 2011. “We didn’t know no different. We didn’t know no other way. It was what we did. And that’s going to come back and hit ya – and it got me.”
But not before Gregg Allman helped to redraw the landscape of classic rock.
Born on Dec. 8, 1947, Gregg actually started out on the guitar, before his older brother Duane Allman‘s sweeping talent became apparent. He had an interest in dentistry if music hadn’t worked out – and, for a very long time, it seemed as if it wouldn’t. Their first band together, called the Escorts, evolved into the Allman Joys by the mid-’60s. In short order, they moved to Los Angeles, renamed the group Hour Glass and signed with Liberty Records. The duo appeared to be on their way. Instead, however, they’d toil in relative obscurity until the early ’70s.
“I mean, a couple of times I got real discouraged and thought, ‘Man, why don’t I just go back to med school and just say it was fun while it lasted,'” Allman told Clash in 2011. “Chalk it up to experience, you know? And I just couldn’t quite bring myself to do it, because I wanted to play.”
After both Hour Glass albums flopped, Duane Allman left to pursue a career back in Alabama as a session guitarist at Muscle Shoals. Gregg spent an unhappy period alone in California, still contractually obligated to Liberty. About a year later, they reunited to cut another demo together – this time with a group that included future Allman Brothers Band stalwart Butch Trucks on drums. Second drummer Jai Johanny Johanson and bassist Berry Oakley, who Duane met doing sideman work, later joined – followed by Oakley’s friend Dickey Betts. The Allmans’ classic lineup was set.
Gregg served as principal songwriter for their first album, 1969’s The Allman Brothers Band. The project set a template for their heady mixture of rock, blues, jazz and country, but fizzled at No. 188 on the Billboard chart. Over time, however, their tireless work ethic helped build belated momentum. The group’s 1970 follow up, Idlewild South, managed to just nudge into the Top 40 – even as it introduced Betts as a songwriting force.
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