Top Ten Reasons We Love Gregg Allman (12-8-47 to 05-27-17)
Born in Nashville, Tennessee on December 8, 1947, Gregg LeNoir Allman will be forever linked to the group he co-founded along with his brother, Duane, and other players as The Allman Brothers Band. Gregg and Duane Allman heard music calling them while in their teens, forming The Allman Joys in mid-1960’s Florida before relocating to Los Angeles, California in 1967 and forming the band Hour Glass. After two album releases on Liberty Records, the brothers returned to Jacksonville, Florida in 1969, forming The Allman Brothers Band along with Dickey Betts, Butch Trucks, Jaimoe Johanson, and Berry Oakley. The group moved to Macon, Georgia which became their homebase. The Allman Brothers released their first self-titled album in 1969, releasing another album (Idlewild South) before achieving major success on the heels of their 1971 release, Live at the Fillmore East. The Allman Brothers Band lost two core members in 1971 (Duane Allman) and 1972 (Berry Oakley) in motorcycle accidents. The band broke up and reformed several times over the course of time, finally reforming in 1989 and continuing until their final performance in 2014. The Allman Brothers Band had Gregg Allman as its figurehead throughout its history as band members changed lineup, some staying for long periods, some moving through quickly, with Gregg sitting at his keyboard and behind the microphone.
A solo career began after the initial break-up in 1975 with Gregg Allman releasing his first solo album, Laid Back. Throughout his fifty-year career, Gregg Allman was visible in the music industry. Whether solo, fronting his own band, or a part of The Allman Brothers legacy, Gregg Allman was a constant force. His final solo live recording took place in Macon, Georgia in 2015. On May 27, 2017 Gregg Allman passed away, leaving his music behind as a constant reminder of his place in the rock era.
01 Whipping Post – The Allman Brothers Band (from the album The Allman Brothers Band)
Looking back in time it seems like The Allman Brothers Band began its career with a blast. The self-titled debut album from the band offered a taste though what came through for many listeners was the excitement. The sound of the band built in layers on “Whipping Post”. Though jammed based, the music flowed; guitars, keyboard, and rhythms interacting and becoming one force that began as a simple guitar riff and expanded into an audio firework display that never let go of the first spark.
02 Don’t Want You No More – The Allman Brothers Band (from the album The Allman Brothers Band)
The first track on their debut immediately showcased the playing of The Allman Brothers Band. The tune does not begin as much as explode in life. Gregg Allman’s organ is the first lead solo, beginning a template for “Don’t Want You No More” that had guitars, keyboard, and percussion playing tag over the music. Opening an album with an instrumental piece of music, let alone a debut, was a risk that The Allman Brothers Band clearly took on to show their confidence in what they were doing as a musical entity.
03 Midnight Rider – The Allman Brothers Band (from the album Idelwild South)
By the second album from The Allman Brothers Band, a persona was developing for the group through the vocals of Gregg Allman. The music was an integral part of the story and the voice for the characters in their songs was Gregg Allman. He was the “Midnight Rider”. The wanderer, barely getting by yet still keeping one step ahead of an unseen enemy that wanted to arrest a lifestyle.
04 In Memory of Elizabeth Reed – The Allman Brothers Band (from the album Idlewild South)
Once again relying on an instrumental to tell their story, The Allman Brothers Band took the name of the track from a headstone located in the cemetery near their Macon, Georgia rehearsal space for the title of “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”. Like everything the band did in their early years, the track is a group effort. Even with the guitar magic of Duane Allman leading, The Allman Brothers Band were a united front as the guitar handed off the leads to Gregg Allman’s organ like a torch being passed between long distance runners.
05 Statesboro Blues – The Allman Brothers Band (from the album Live at the Fillmore East)
The third album from The Allman Brothers Band was the release that broke the group into a mainstream music world. Recorded over a three-day period in March of 1971, Live at the Fillmore East was released in July of 1971. After a spoken introduction, The Allman Brothers Band kicked off the album with a cover of Blind Willie McTell’s tune “Statesboro Blues”. Like everything he sang, Gregg Allman was the character and the song became associated with only The Allman Brothers Band.
06 Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More – The Allman Brothers Band (from the album Eat a Peach)
The lead track from Eat a Peach was a memorial for Duane Allman who died as the result of a motorcycle accident on October 29, 1971. Brother Gregg Allman tributes his brother Duane as well as speaking to his generation, a worldwide community that looked at death as a part of life, mourning those that are gone and using their strength as our own as life progresses…’it’s up to you and me brother to try and try again’.
07 Melissa – The Allman Brothers Band (from the album Eat a Peach)
Gregg Allman had written “Melissa” before The Allman Brothers Band was even the beginning of an idea. The track was written by Gregg in 1967 while staying at a motel in Pensacola, Florida. He kept the song as notes and the tune became a favorite of his brother Duane. Gregg Allman never shared the song with the other band members, thinking that “Melissa” was too soft for their catalog. The Allman Brothers Band recorded the track for Eat a Peach as one more tribute to Duane.
08 Wasted Words – The Allman Brothers Band (from the album Brothers and Sisters)
By the recording of Brothers and Sisters, Gregg Allman was virtually inseparable from the characters in his songs. “Wasted Words” opens the album as Gregg walks through the track playing the bad boy with a heart of gold, a counter-culture hero and model for the new Southern Man. The duality of the South that became a major theme for bands such as Drive-By Truckers began in the lyrics of Gregg Allman.
09 Just Another Rider – Gregg Allman (from the Low Country Blues)
Over the course of time, Gregg Allman’s voice took on the hard-shell of his characters. On his Low Country Blues album, Gregg updates the hero of his early days, the after-dark superman cruising late night highways. In “Just Another Rider”, the hero’s image is slightly tarnished, a bit worn from the years and the abuse his body has gotten from both the world and the man inside.
10 I’m No Angel – Gregg Allman (from the album Live: Back to Macon, GA)
Gregg Allman returned to the city where The Allman Brothers Band formed the heart of their music, Macon, Georgia. Recorded live, Back to Macon, GA was released in August of 2015. Gregg Allman included “I’m No Angel”, an autobiographical anthem that was first heard on a 1987 release. The words fit the persona that Gregg Allman lived, and the face he showed to the world. The story was not a revelation on first hearing, more of a head nod that Gregg captured the man he was so well in the lyrics.