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Gregg Allman, Soulful Trailblazer of Southern Rock, Dies at 69
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Diner
2017-05-27 20:19:15 UTC
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http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/rock/7759662/gregg-allman-dead
Gregg Allman, Soulful Trailblazer of Southern Rock, Dies at 69
5/27/2017 by Deborah Wilker

Gregg Allman, the soulful singer-songwriter and rock n' blues pioneer who founded The Allman Brothers Band with his late brother, Duane, and composed such classics as "Midnight Rider," "Melissa" and the epic concert jam "Whipping Post," has died at age 69, Billboard has learned. He was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 1999 and underwent a liver transplant in 2010.

He "passed away peacefully at his home in Savannah, Georgia," according to a statement on Gregg Allman's official website, noting that the family planned to release a statement soon. "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 longtime 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.”

With his long blond hair, cool facade and songs that chronicled restless, wounded lives, Allman came to personify the sexy, hard-living rock outlaw in a life marked by musical triumph and calamitous loss.

Billboard will have more information about the specifics behind Allman's death as the story develops.

Allman fronted his band for 45 years, first alongside Duane and then as its sole namesake, after his older brother -- regarded as one of the most influential guitarists in rock history -- was killed in a motorcycle accident in November 1971, just as their trailblazing Southern rock tracks were taking hold on the charts.

Soldiering on through grief and then the eerily similar death of bassist Berry Oakley just one year and 10 days after Duane died, Allman and the band became as well known for their stoic survival as they were for their freewheeling concerts.

The Allman Brothers Band first reached the Billboard 200 albums chart with its self-titled debut in 1970. Over the next 34 years, the group charted 24 more albums, including four top 10 sets. It topped the list once, with Brothers and Sisters, which reached No. 1 for five weeks in 1973.

The group also landed 10 Billboard Hot 100 hits between 1971-1981. It earned its best showing with “Ramblin Man,” which reached No. 2 in October 1973, and reached the top 40 two more times with “Crazy Love” (No. 29, 1979) and “Straight From the Heart” (No. 39, 1981). The band also logged a No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock Songs chart in 1990 with “Good Clean Fun.” In total, since Nielsen Music began tracking point-of-sale music purchases in 1991, Allman Brothers Band have sold 9.3 million albums in the U.S.

As a soloist, Allman notched seven charting albums on the Billboard 200, including one top 10 set: the No. 5-peaking Low Country Blues in 2001. On the Hot 100, he claimed a pair of entries with “Midnight Rider” (No. 19 in 1974) and “I’m No Angel” (No. 49 in 1987). The latter also topped the Mainstream Rock Songs chart that same year.

After years of tragedy, dramatic breakups and tense reconciliations, a reconstituted Allman Brothers Band engineered a renaissance starting in the mid-'90s that put their fiery brew of old-time blues, jazz and country rock squarely at the forefront of music's thriving jam scene.

The Allmans' annual rite of spring -- a three-week run of shows typically held every March at the historic Beacon Theatre on New York's Upper West Side -- remade the band into a formidable commercial force in recent decades, long after many in the music industry had written them off.

A gentle and at times fierce balladeer, Allman would spend the majority of these shows behind his Hammond organ, taking center stage only briefly, usually with his acoustic guitar for "Melissa," which would start quietly and then blossom into a freeform jam.

With 238 concerts at the Beacon from 1989-2014, the Allmans had become such an important tenant that when the theater's new owner, The Madison Square Garden Co., announced plans for a renovation in 2006, Allman was consulted. His plain-spoken advice to executives: "Just don't screw it up."

Gregory LeNoir Allman was born in Nashville on Dec. 8, 1947, slightly more than a year after Duane. Tragedy struck early for the brothers when their father, Willis Turner Allman, an Army captain who had just returned home, was shot and killed in 1949 while helping a hitchhiker.

The family moved to Daytona Beach, Fla., but Allman returned to Nashville often to visit relatives, developing an interest in music while there, particularly after seeing a concert featuring Otis Redding, B.B. King, Jackie Wilson and Patti LaBelle on one life-changing bill.

He bought his first guitar for $21.95 at Sears, but soon Duane was demanding to play it. The brothers became so consumed by their music, and so intent on continuing, that Gregg deliberately shot himself in one foot to gain a medical exemption from the Vietnam draft. (He had studied a skeletal chart to find the least damaging place to shoot.)

One of their early bands, The Escorts, evolved into the moderately successful Allman Joys. They toured the South relentlessly, endured an ill-fated label deal in California and were signed -- along with Oakley, guitarist Dickey Betts and drummers Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson and Butch Trucks -- as The Allman Brothers Band by Macon, Ga.-based Capricorn Records in 1969.

The guys were enjoying a first rush of mainstream fame with the release of their third album, the landmark live set At Fillmore East, when Duane was killed in Macon after the motorcycle that he was piloting swerved to avoid a truck and crashed. He was 24.

Still in shock, the band quickly resumed work on 1972's Eat a Peach, highlighted by its haunting opening track, "Ain't Wasting Time No More," Allman's enduring tribute to his brother. They summoned their strength once again after Oakley's death -- also from a motorcycle crash just blocks from where Duane had been fatally injured -- adding new members and recording 1973's Brothers and Sisters. That disc remained No. 1 on Billboard's album chart for five weeks and featured the Betts classics "Jessica" and "Ramblin' Man."

The Allmans' fame grew exponentially, and in 1973 they played before a record-breaking 600,000 fans at The Summer Jam at Watkins Glen, N.Y., alongside the Grateful Dead and The Band. But in 1976, the group would endure the first of several rancorous splits, which saw Allman clashing most intensely with Betts for control. (The guitarist would be fired in 2000.)

In 1975, Allman, then 27, was downing a quart of vodka a day, hooked on heroin and already on his third marriage — this time to Cher, the '60s pop icon who was then a star of CBS variety shows, first with former husband Sonny Bono and then on her own. But just nine days into the new union, Cher, distressed by Allman's drug use, walked out.

They reconciled, had a son, Elijah Blue Allman, and briefly became a recording duo, billing themselves as Allman and Woman. Their one record together, 1977's Two the Hard Way, was disparaged by critics and their divergent fan bases and was a particularly tough sell given Cher's professional reunion with Bono for a new CBS show at the time. Allman and Cher divorced in 1979.

During this era, Allman also was something of a grassroots political activist, helping put a little-known Jimmy Carter into the White House with an endless run of fundraising concerts. (When Macon's Mercer University bestowed an honorary doctorate upon Allman in May 2016, it was Carter who presented it.)

In a 2015 interview with Dan Rather, Allman detailed his many failed attempts at rehab and how the stage could numb just about any kind of pain.

"I've walked onstage with an abscessed tooth and as soon as you get out there, it goes away," Allman said. "Walk offstage, it comes back. It's the land of no pain."

His determination to rebuild The Allman Brothers Band dovetailed with his first long stretch of sobriety, finally accomplished at age 47, soon after he saw a replay of his incoherent appearance during the group's 1995 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They received Grammy's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

By the time The Allman Brothers Band had added 20-year-old guitar prodigy Derek Trucks (nephew of the founding drummer) in 2000, they were finally settling into their most stable groove in three decades -- a 15-year finale of sorts that lasted until the younger Trucks and fellow guitarist Warren Haynes decided to leave. The band called it day with one final Beacon run in 2014.

That same year, Allman was again linked with tragedy: The movie-set death of camera assistant Sarah Jones, who was working on the indie biopic Midnight Rider, based on Allman's 2012 autobiography, My Cross to Bear. After Jones was killed and six others injured, director Randall Miller wanted to continue with the film, but Allman begged him to drop the project.

A prolific solo artist who also toured and recorded through the decades with his own Gregg Allman Band, he had his biggest solo radio hit in 1987, the catchy "I'm No Angel," which reached the top spot on Billboard's Album Rock Tracks chart.

His nine solo albums included All My Friends, recorded at a 2014 tribute concert to him at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, and 2015's Live: Back to Macon, GA. A new studio album, Southern Blood, is scheduled to be released this year.

Allman canceled a round of concert dates in 2016 but got back on the road briefly last fall, performing his last known shows at his own Laid Back Festivals -- Sept. 25 at Red Rocks Amphitheatre outside Denver and Oct. 29 at Lakewood Amphitheatre in Atlanta. He endured yet more heartbreak in January when Butch Trucks committed suicide at age 69.

In March, Allman announced that he was canceling all shows in 2017 and offered refunds to fans. His last song on stage appears to have been "One Way Out."

In addition to Elijah Blue, his survivors include his other children Michael, Devon, Delilah and Layla.

© 2017 Billboard. All Rights Reserved.
Bryan Styble
2017-05-27 20:34:31 UTC
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Good Lord!

So now The Allman Brothers Band, for decades my hands-down favorite rock assemblage ever (and Gregg maybe my fave blues singer ever), shall presumably rock on, only now with zero Allman Brothers--which, incidentally, is why the "Allman Brothers" shorthand so annoyingly employed by so much of the rock world was incorrect ever since October 29, 1971.

Or maybe the smart thing to do will be to emulate The Grateful Dead after Garcia's demise and disband the band. Hard to imagine they'll ever best the Mountain jam from Fillmore East anyway.

BRYAN STYBLE/Florida
Louis Epstein
2017-05-27 22:28:25 UTC
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Post by Bryan Styble
Good Lord!
So now The Allman Brothers Band, for decades my hands-down favorite
rock assemblage ever (and Gregg maybe my fave blues singer ever), shall
presumably rock on, only now with zero Allman Brothers--which,
incidentally, is why the "Allman Brothers" shorthand so annoyingly
employed by so much of the rock world was incorrect ever since October
29, 1971.
Or maybe the smart thing to do will be to emulate The Grateful Dead
after Garcia's demise and disband the band. Hard to imagine they'll
ever best the Mountain jam from Fillmore East anyway.
BRYAN STYBLE/Florida
I gathered from the article that the band had folded in 2014.
Now that only one founding member (Johanson) is alive I would
expect that it's revival-proof,and if not,revivals would be
credibility-proof.

-=-=-
The World Trade Center towers MUST rise again,
at least as tall as before...or terror has triumphed.
Bryan Styble
2017-05-27 23:30:18 UTC
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Well, I thought with Trucks junior and Warren Haynes and assorted others they were still together, at least for the occasional gig.

And I could never figure out why Richard Betts got fired; his guitar work sounded as fine as ever to me when he got axed.

But yeah, Louis, you're absolutely correct: any assemblage now claiming to be The Allman Brothers Band would be as illegitimate and silly as that time in the 70s when--according to Rolling Stone in an amusing little piece entitled "When Is a Fleetwood Mac Not a Fleetwood Mac?"--one of their managers tried to stage a European tour with a group that featured zero original Macs.

BRYAN STYBLE/Florida
Louis Epstein
2017-05-28 02:46:21 UTC
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Post by Bryan Styble
Well, I thought with Trucks junior and Warren Haynes and assorted others they were still together, at least for the occasional gig.
And I could never figure out why Richard Betts got fired; his guitar work sounded as fine as ever to me when he got axed.
But yeah, Louis, you're absolutely correct: any assemblage now
claiming to be The Allman Brothers Band would be as illegitimate and
silly as that time in the 70s when--according to Rolling Stone in an
amusing little piece entitled "When Is a Fleetwood Mac Not a Fleetwood
Mac?"--one of their managers tried to stage a European tour with a group
that featured zero original Macs.
Found that online...it's from 1974...manager quote:
"I want to get this out of the public's mind as far as the band being
Mick Fleetwood's band",said Davis."This band is my band.This band has
always been my band."

43 years on the public's mind still doesn't agree with Davis.

Another example of course is that somewhere in the afterlife,
there may be a band with Ronnie Van Zant on lead,Allen Collins and
Steve Gaines on guitars,Leon Wilkeson on bass,Bob Burns on drums,
and Billy Powell at the keyboard...and it would have a better
claim than any group of living people claiming to be Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Nobody who didn't answer Larry Mullen's school bulletin board ad
has claimed to be a member of U2...much simpler that way!

-=-=-
The World Trade Center towers MUST rise again,
at least as tall as before...or terror has triumphed.
Bryan Styble
2017-05-28 02:49:58 UTC
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Whoever penned the Gregg Allman entry in Wikipedia's Notable Deaths in 2017 roster describes Allman correctly as a singer/songwriter...but then boneheadedly lists as the first of only two exemplary tunes "Ramblin' Man"--which of course was a big hit for The Allman Brothers Band (and the tune that first exposed this Bryan-come-lately to what would soon enough become my all-time fave band)...but which was written AND sung by Richard Betts, not Allman.

STYBLE/Florida
t***@gmail.com
2017-05-29 10:42:56 UTC
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Greg burned his candle hard at both ends for years. I'm surprised he lasted this long
Topic Cop
2020-09-07 22:18:14 UTC
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Post by t***@gmail.com
Greg burned his candle hard at both ends for years. I'm surprised he lasted this long
He was a snitch why does he get a pass man

MJ Emigh
2017-05-28 02:49:06 UTC
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On Saturday, May 27, 2017 at 3:34:32 PM UTC-5, Bryan Styble wrote:
The Allman Brothers Band shall presumably rock on, only now with zero Allman Brothers

They did their final concert a few years ago at the Beacon in New York. It was broadcast live on satellite radio and then played daily for a while. It is now available on disc or via download. It was a good show. I used to go and see them often (first time in '72, I believe) in their prime, so the final show was probably more nostalgia-driven than it was a great concert. Still, it is nice to hear.
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