Gregg Allman, a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, the incendiary group that inspired and gave shape to both the Southern rock and jam-band movements, died on Saturday at his home in Savannah, Ga. He was 69.
His publicist, Ken Weinstein, said the cause was complications of liver cancer.
If you were a Southern boy growing up in the sixties and seventies and you didn’t listen to The Allman Brothers Band — a lot — well, buddy, that made you a little different. Even a certain US President was known to do that.
Sure, the guitar play between Duane and Dickey was mesmerizing, but for me even more, it was that voice. From the first moment “yeah, yeah, yeah” came blasting out of my speakers on “Not My Cross To Bear”…
… I was stunned. How could a white kid sound so emotionally authoritative delivering the blues?
Beginning with a show at Georgia Tech, I saw the band more times than any other during my high school years. I remember the sadness I felt upon learning of Duane’s passing and the shock of Berry Oakley’s death the next year. Somehow it came out all right once I felt the comfort in the sound of Greg’s voice on Eat A Peach’s first cut.
I still remember Rolling Stone’s review of Eat A Peach, particularly the send off:
The Allman Brothers are still the best goddamned band in the land, and this record with three sides of “old” and one side of “new” is a simultaneous sorrowed ending and hopeful beginning. I hope the band keeps playing forever — how many groups can you think of who really make you believe they’re playing for the joy of it?
The spirit lived on. It still does. Rest easy, indeed.