An era is truly finished.
By Blurt Staff
And then there were none—Allman brothers, that is. Though the spirit of the Allman Brothers Band will no doubt endure for decades to come, given the influential legacy that the Southern rock legends forged over the years, starting in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s, without the group’s actual namesakes—brothers Duane who passed long ago, and Gregg, who we lost on May 27, just as the Memorial Day weekend was in full swing, it’s unlikely that anyone will be able to lay credible claim to “owning” or “perpetuating” that legacy.
This publication’s editor, Fred Mills, offered a personal remembrance of Gregg and his band of musical brothers upon receiving news of the death, writing, “R.I.P. Gregg Allman. This wasn’t altogether unexpected, but it’s still a shock, like part of my teenage self disappearing. I first saw the band touring behind their second album, in a small Charlotte venue, en route to the career defining Fillmore East album – still quite possibly the greatest concert album ever. Several years ago I got to see him up close and personal at the Warren Haynes Xmas Jam here in AVL, and I will never forget the sight of him backstage down below the Civic Center stage, chilling out in the hospitality area and watching the TV screen with the action onstage. I started to approach him, just his cowboy boots poking out from the big stuffed chair as he stared at the screen, not moving. I realized no one dared interrupt him, as there was no one else in proximity to his seat. I sure wasn’t going to be a fanboy at that moment. It was as if a deity was among us, seated on a throne, imperious but impossibly calm. He’d be onstage in another couple of hours, doing “Midnight Rider” and more…”
The tributes, of course, have been pouring forth following the official announcement of Gregg’s passing, from liver cancer:
Gregory LeNoir Allman
December 8, 1947 – May 27, 2017
It is with deep sadness 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.
The family suggests that tributes to Gregg can be made to the Gregg Allman Scholarship Fund at The University of Georgia or the Allman/Lehman Endowed Scholarship at Syracuse University.
Latter-day Allmans guitarist Warren Haynes wrote on Facebook this weekend, “I am truly honored to have been fortunate enough to have written many songs with him and equally honored to have traveled the world with him while making the best music the world has ever known… Traveling – like life – is so much better when you’ve got friends to share the experience with. I’ve lost too many lately and this one is gonna be hard to get past.
“Here was this group of Southern hippies with an integrated band coming out of the Deepest South with equally deep music on the heels of some extremely deep changes. We didn’t realize how heavy that was at the time but we sure realized how heavy the music was… Gregg wrote these amazing songs that were as natural as his voice was. The words and melodies felt so perfectly unpretentious and, when delivered by him, made an emotional connection that only happens when music is genuine and honest. I learned an enormous amount about singing and songwriting from him—most of it before we ever met.”
Keyboard player Chuck Leavell also put his thoughts down to digital paper, posting at his website, “Gregg Allman was not only a friend and brother, but he was a strong inspiration to me very early on in my career…. I was so fortunate to get the call to play on [Gregg’s Laid Back solo album], and as a then 19-year old keyboard player trying to find his way, it was the dream offer of a lifetime. Playing on “Laid Back” was a life changing experience for me, but even more was to come, when the jam sessions after hours with the other members of the ABB resulted in me being asked to join the band.
“Thank you, Gregg…for your inspiration, for your talent, for your loyal friendship and for the amazing human being you are. I am forever grateful for my relationship with you, for sharing the stage with you so many times, for the honor of recording with you on some records that have stood the test of time. You will always be my hero and I am your biggest fan. Rest easy, my Brother.”
At this stage in the game, what can a media outlet possibly publish that might adequately contextualize the contribution Gregg Allman, along with brother Duane and the rest of the Allmans extended musical family, contributed to rock ‘n’ roll? Their place in the pantheon transcends simple matters of Grammys and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame status—they moved the dial in immeasurable ways.
How to count them? Here’s a modest start…