Singer songwriter Gregg Allman dead at 69
- Author: Larry Hoffman May 28, 2017,
May 28, 2017, 6:07
Gregg Allman, the founding member of the Allman Brothers Band who overcame family tragedy, drug addiction and health problems to become a grizzled elder statesman for the blues music he loved, has died. Their hits, like "Rambling Man", "Midnight Rider", and "Whipping Post", were songs that contributed to The Allman Brothers Band's great success over the years.
In 2010, Allman underwent a successful liver transplant, but was forced to cancel a tour the following year after suffering from an upper respiratory condition resulting from the surgery. And in March 2017, he cancelled performances for the rest of the year.
Allman fronted his band for 45 years, first alongside Duane and then as its sole namesake, after his older brother - a rock history luminary - was killed in a motorcycle accident in November 1971.
The band's 1969 self-titled debut saw the band split the difference between covers (Muddy Waters' "Trouble No More", the Spencer Davis Group's "Don't Want You No More") and originals.
Media reports said it was from complications of liver cancer; a statement from the band said he died "peacefully at his home" in Savannah, Ga. The Allman Brothers Band reformed in 1978 and began rehearsing in Sarasota for what would become the band's 1979 comeback album "Enlightened Rogues", which features the poignant Allman ballad "Just Ain't Easy". Late in the decade, Allman recorded two solo albums for Epic Records, the first producing the radio hit, "I'm No Angel". The band members developed a family-style relationship, bonding while hanging out at Macon's Rose Hill cemetery, with Duane in what Gregg said was the father role.
While studying for her nursing degree, Allman's mother enrolled her two sons in Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon, Tenn., near Nashville. Allman had come through so much turmoil and hardship and illness and impossible obstacles, time after time after time. The singer had struggled with several health issues in recent years.
Gregg Allman was blessed with one of blues-rock's great growling voices and, along with his Hammond B-3 organ playing (beholden to Booker T. Jones), had a deep emotional power.
After the surgery, he turned music to help him recover and released his first solo album in 14 years Low Country Blues in 2011. Along with guitarist Dickey Betts, bassist Berry Oakley and drummers Jai Johanny Johanson (aka Jaimoe) and Butch Trucks - they would go on to be one of the most influential bands in southern rock (along with Lynyrd Skynyrd) and in the jam band scene (along with the Grateful Dead and Santana).
"I had met Frank a couple of times and I was awestruck, " Allman said.
As the Allman Brothers Band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, it also marked a personal turning point for Mr. Allman.