You likely have read or heard that Gregg Allman has passed away. His brother Duane died so many years ago, but the two left a huge footprint on bluesy rock and roll influencing many.
One of the finest live albums or any album for that matter is their magnum opus “Live at Fillmore East.” Gregg’s soulful voice and musicality are a key reason for their success, but the band is known for the slide guitar playing of his brother Duane and the harmonious guitar of the also talented Dickey Betts. Duane was greatly admired and played the plaintiff sound on Eric Clapton’s “Layla.”
Gregg was also talented and no one should say he did not bring a huge amount to the band. His voice and timing was adroit as was his keyboard work. The songs were his as well. But, the band also had other terrific musicians, including two drummers, Butch Trucks and Jaimoe Johanson. The bassist was Brett Oakley, who died a year after Duane.
“Statesboro Blues” is a vintage Allman Brothers’ song. It is also one of their shorter ones. “Whipping Post,” may be their greatest song, but each of us will have our favorite. “One Way Out,” maybe a close second for me. “Melissa” is a more serene song about love which shows their range. I saw an interview with Gregg who said he gleaned the song name from a mother chastising her daughter Melissa. “Midnight Rider” was one of their bigger hits. And, Betts sang the lead on “Blue Sky” and “Ramblin’ Man.”
Most of their songs were too long for pop radio, so their hits were fewer than you would expect. Yet, their body of work is substantial. And, to best appreciate them is to download or play a CD of their live songs while cruising down the road.
My wife and I saw them in concert long after Duane and Brett had passed. My youngest son was able to join us. Derek Trucks had joined the band for the tour as Trucks is one of the finest guitarists in the world and is the nephew of long time Allman Brothers ‘s drummer Butch Trucks. We left spent from the concert with Warren Haynes and Derek’s guitar playing amplified by two drummers who took breaks as the lengthy songs wore them out.
It is sad to see the end of an era. But, their music will live on. May Gregg rest in peace. As he sang late in his career, “I’m no Angel.” Neither are we, but we value your part in our lives.