Saturday, May 27, 2017

Gregg Allman 1947-2017

Gregg Allman, lead singer and keyboardist of the Allman Brothers Band, and one of the pioneers of southern rock, died earlier today at his home in Savannah, Georgia.  He was 69.  He had previously contacted Hepatitis C and had undergone a liver transplant.

Gregory LeNoir Allman was born in 1947 in Nashville, Tennessee.  Along with his guitarist brother Duane, he moved to Florida during the mid-1960's and played in a band named after themselves, the Allman Joys.  They later relocated to Los Angeles and formed a band called the Hour Glass, and still later moved to Macon, Georgia to form the Allman Brothers Band.  The original lineup also included guitarist/singer Richard Betts, bassist Berry Oakley and two drummers, Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny Johanson, known as Jaimoe.  After the band put out two successful albums, Duane Allman and Oakley were each killed in a motorcycle accident.  They regrouped with Lamar Williams on bass and Chuck Leavell on piano.  The band, in various incarnations, would continue until 2014.  Its members have included guitarists such as Dan Toler, Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks (Butch's nephew), bassists such as Allen Woody and Oteil Burbridge, drummer David Toler (Dan's brother, who briefly replaced Johanson), and percussionist Marc QuiƱones.  Besides organ, Gregg Allman would occasionally play piano and guitar.  He also had a side project called the Gregg Allman Band.

Allman had five children, including singer-guitarist Elijah Blue Allman, whose mother is pop singer Cher.  Read more at Billboard, CNN, Rolling Stone, Ultimate Classic Rock and TMZ.

Here are a few notable songs from Gregg Allman.  Dreams is from the band's self-titled 1969 debut album, and has been covered by artists such as Molly Hatchet.

Midnight Rider appeared on the band's second album Idlewild South, and has been covered by numerous artists, including Gregg Allman himself in a solo effort.  The original version includes lead guitar by Betts and harmony vocals by Oakley.

The band's third album Eat a Peach includes both studio and live recordings, such as this live version of One Way Out.  At one time, I actually thought this was Lynyrd Skynyrd rather than the Allman Brothers.  In reality, Duane Allman plays slide guitar, while Betts plays "regular" lead.  The song was written by bluesmen Elmore James, Marshall Seahorn and Sonny Boy Williamson II.

Written by Betts, Southbound is from the band's fourth album Brothers and Sisters.  I've always liked Leavell's piano work in this one.

Let's finish with I'm No Angel, the title song from Allman's 1987 solo album.  In the video, he and his band arrive at an old saloon, remove the sheets that had been covering some instruments, and then proceed to play the song.  The band includes the Toler brothers on guitar and drums.


Various members of the Allman Brothers Band would later form other groups, such as Gov't Mule, Great Southern, the Tedeschi Trucks Band and Sea Level, the last one being a pun on Leavell's name.  Most recently, Leavell has been a touring keyboardist for the Rolling Stones.

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