Gregg Allman, Legendary Allman Brothers Founding Member, Has Died
Gregg Allman, a towering pioneer of Southern rock, roots jazz, blues and country, has died at the age of 69. Allman had been recently suffering from numerous health ailments, including a diagnosis of hepatitis C in 1999, and he underwent a liver transplant in 2010. Earlier in 2017, Allman had canceled all tour dates due to health concerns. He passed away peacefully at his home.
Along with his brother Duane who died tragically in a motorcycle accident in 1971, Gregg Allman fronted one of the most pioneering bands in American music history, straddling the lines between rock, improvisational jazz, blues, and country roots. His death leaves a gaping hole in the Southern rock and American roots scene.
Gregg Allman is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and is the owner of multiple Grammy Awards. He was primarily known as a keyboardist, but also played guitar, was an accomplished songwriter, and was once named #70 on Rolling Stones’ “100 Greatest Singers of All Time.”
Born Gregory LeNoir Allman at St. Thomas Hospital on December 8, 1947 in Nashville, Tennessee, his family would eventually relocate to Daytona Beach, Florida, where he worked as a paperboy to afford a Sears Silvertone guitar that he shared with brother Duane. His first band was formed at a local YMCA, called the “Y Teens,” and later he formed The Shufflers with Duane, and eventually The Escorts, which the brothers considered their first real band. This would be the beginning of a long and storied career in music.
The Escorts eventually became the Allman Joys, and after numerous residencies in gulf cities such as Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola Florida, they made some early recordings in Nashville. But it was a move to Macon, Georgia in the late 60’s, the band’s experimentation with psychedelics, and Gregg Allman’s move into the role as songwriter that would eventually put The Allman Brothers on the map.
Gregg Allman kept The Allman Brothers going through decades of tragedy, and success. Though the band’s first few albums on Capricorn Records did not sell well, when they determined to bring the magic they evoked on the stage to the recorded context on At Fillmore East, it launched the band into the national, and international consciousness. Unfortunately, the 1971 record would be the last release to include Gregg’s brother Duane full time. Duane died in a motorcycle accident on October 29th, 1971. The next year, the band’s bassist would die in a motorcycle accident as well. Butch Trucks, the drummer of The Allman Brothers, died in a suicide earlier in 2017.
Gregg Allman did his best to keep the musical memory of his bandmates alive, and the legacy of The Allman Brothers moving forward. Over the years, the band would become a proving ground for Southern rock, blues, and jam band musicians including Derek Trucks (son of Butch Trucks), Warren Haynes, Chuck Leavell, and many more. Guitarist Dickey Betts would become a star in his own right, as The Allman Brothers outfit earned respect across the board from musicians from a mix of genres.
Gregg Allman also had an accomplished solo career with the Gregg Allman Band that he would tour with during downtime and hiatuses in The Allman Brothers. Gregg even had a solo hit in 1987 with the song “I’m No Angel.” Later in life he was considered an elder statesman of jam band and roots music, regularly making appearances with other artists, at award shows, and in speaking engagements.
The Allman Brothers Band performed their final show on October 28, 2014 at the Beacon Theatre in New York, but for the many fans who have followed the outfit through its trials and tribulations, they knew to never call it the end as long as Gregg Allman was still around. Now, the “Mountain Jam” has finally come to an end after an extended, storied, inspiring, and influential performance.
Gregg Allman is survived by his children Elijah Blue, Michael, Devon, Delilah and Layla.
May 27, 2017 @ 1:34 pm
My heart is broken. Saw him and the brothers several times over the years. Never disappointed. RIP Brother Gregg
May 27, 2017 @ 1:37 pm
“Live at Fillmore East” is the best live album ever in my opinion.
May 27, 2017 @ 4:12 pm
Absolutelty! Without question.
May 27, 2017 @ 5:47 pm
That’s not your opinion — that’s certified fact. Greatest live album of all time.
May 27, 2017 @ 1:41 pm
May 27, 2017 @ 3:04 pm
When it came to creating an original sound and approach to performance , the Allman Brothers wrote the book . When it came to unique , one -of-a-kind vocal talents , Greg Allman stood out amidst the MOST gifted and most recognizable vocalists around . God bless Greg Allman .
May 27, 2017 @ 4:09 pm
cool dude RIP
May 27, 2017 @ 4:59 pm
Heartbreaking. One of the best voices and bands ever.
May 27, 2017 @ 5:10 pm
Well, shit. The Allman Brothers were always one of my favorite classic rock bands.
And yeah, you guessed it…still more country than Sam Hunt.
May 29, 2017 @ 7:13 am
I know that’s turned to a SCM joke (and I love it) but to your point, seriously though, the Allman Brothers were more country than 90% of what is played on “country radio” these days. That’s why I think this site should be named “Saving Good Music”.
May 29, 2017 @ 6:22 pm
the Allman Brothers were more country than 90% of what is played on “country radio” these days.
Oh, absolutely. Most if not all Southern rock was. Hell, it wasn’t that far removed from country even then. As I have put it before, it’s not that big of a jump from Southern rock to Waylon, Willie, and the boys. And at least some of those dudes were bona fide country fans. Just for another example I remember hearing they played Merle Haggard’s “I Take A Lot Of Pride In What I Am” at Ronnie Van Zant’s funeral and reading that RVZ was slated to do a duet with Merle Haggard at the time of the plane crash.
May 29, 2017 @ 7:24 pm
Skynyrd covered Merle’s Honky Tonk Night Time Man on Street Survivors. Also, on the bonus disc from Street Survivors is a song called “Jacksonville Kid,” which is an alternate lyrics version of Honky Tonk Night Time Man.
May 29, 2017 @ 7:46 pm
Now that you mention it, I remember that first cover. It was really good, too.
May 27, 2017 @ 6:25 pm
A punch in the gut. Gregg, I loved your music. I loved the ABB style. Long hair, cowboy boots and leather vest. The ABB were the coolest of cool. The lyrics spoke to me in a personal way. From fun partying, to addiction,finally, recovery for me, the music of the ABB were with me. I know Dickey is in pain but know the ABB music will live forever. Thank for being with me during many painful nights where I was all alone except a turntable and Live at Fillmore album, and you saved me life. God I’m going to miss you !
May 27, 2017 @ 6:43 pm
To me, the tragic thing about Gregg Allman’s passing is not only in how much of a force he was in music in general, and the rock music of the South in general, but it is also a reminder of how many great people we have lost in just the last few years, how many more legends are suffering from various horrible ailments like Alzheimer’s (Glen Campbell) and Parkinson’s (Linda Ronstadt). And even more, Gregg’s death is a painful reminder of how so few of today’s performers seem inspired enough to at least try to reach for the level of quality that these legends reached in their lifetimes. We won’t forget artists like Gregg, nor should we; but the great song sung by George Jones, “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?”, should also once again echo throughout our collective imaginations (IMHO).
May 27, 2017 @ 7:55 pm
but the great song sung by George Jones, “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?”, should also once again echo throughout our collective imaginations (IMHO).
Yup. As I have gotten older, I have gotten to see that song applies to a lot of other genres, not just country.
May 27, 2017 @ 8:18 pm
Yeah I agree but sometimes I wonder if we come across as grumpy old (at least older) men complaining about how things were better in our day. We are biased so we think things were better but sometimes I think what is really different is the massive fragmentation of our society is going to lead to less shared cultural experiences and thus few artists will have such wide impact.
May 27, 2017 @ 9:17 pm
sometimes I wonder if we come across as grumpy old (at least older) men complaining about how things were better in our day
Maybe, but I head that off by talking about the new stuff I think holds up the standard. Not necessarily just retro-sounding stuff either.
Agreed on the cultural fragmentation and its effect on our society, though.
May 28, 2017 @ 8:33 am
I agree talking about the new stuff is very important but it takes work because in my experience it’s pretty amazing how few people that call themselves country fans have ever actually heard of some of the really good new stuff.
That is the big difference in the current times. It used to be that with a few exceptions the really good stuff was also successful if not extremely successful. Now we seem to be in some bizarro world where the better the performer the less known they are.
May 27, 2017 @ 11:20 pm
A valid question , Scotty . My take on an answer .
Like many of us here , I’m a pro musician ..have been for 50 years . I now have a small studio and teach as well as performing . My son and his bandmates ( all 20-30 years old ) and my younger students almost always comment on how lucky we ( us ‘ ol guys ‘ ) were to have been around when all of the AMAZING music was happening …be it rock , pop, motown ,Michael Jackson , country , reggae ( Marley ) , the great singer -songwriters ( Bob , Cat Stevens , James Taylor , Paul Simon , Joni , and on an on )..the Allman’s … and how different it is for them today in terms of the contemporary music they are exposed to . They almost always reference older music .
Its always been interesting and inspiring for me as a player to be able to, analyze , evaluate and comment from a musical standpoint but when I listen to these younger people reflect the same observations it confirms what , I think , most of us know to be true . MUSIC WAS BETTER …It was adventurous in honest ways ( not pushing a key on a synth or looping fake drums ) , it was based on an amazingly creative yet schooled generation of CRAFTSMAN and musicians BEFORE the 60’s rock revolution who defined the 40’s and 50’s pop stuff WITHOUT watering down arrangements ( listen to Nat King Cole’s piano solos or Nelson Riddle’s incredible arrangements for Frank …. ) ….then listen to bands like YES or Sgt Peppers or New Grass Revival , Haggard’s songwriting…….or Tom Jones’ Bacharach penned pop stuff …..all of those amazingly organic , hooky and inventive Motown songs . Music was incredibly varied and inspiring but mostly it was honest .
We were very lucky to have been inspired as musicians and moved as listeners by the creative wellspring that existed before ‘ the man’ got his corporate claws into places they had no business getting into ….ARTISTIC CREATIVITY !
May 28, 2017 @ 8:28 am
Some of it might just be that there aren’t many new original ideas or sounds left. How many times on the site do we see somebody dismiss a new artist as a knockoff of Waylon or Hank or Strait or someone. So the logical step is if you feel like the new guys are imitators why not go to the originals.
This might also explain why so many talented people are unwilling to stay in the country genre and insist on drifting to rock and electronic music in an effort to find an original sound. The big problem is that virtually all of these people are not talented or creative enough to pull this off successfully as guys like Allman did. There’s more to baking a cake than just throwing a bunch of ingredients in a bowl.
May 28, 2017 @ 8:54 am
”The big problem is that virtually all of these people are not talented or creative enough to pull this off successfully as guys like Allman did. There’s more to baking a cake than just throwing a bunch of ingredients in a bowl. ”
This is almost exactly what my son said to me the other day Scotty J. He listens to EVERYTHING from Stapleton to Del McCoury to Kendrick Lamar and all points in between and although he likes these particular artists ,invariably he tells me that he doesn’t find anything as inventive as the Steely Dan’s , the Totos , Queen , Earth Wind and Fire and , of course , The Beatles . This is an observation from a 28 year old musician…not his old man.
May 31, 2017 @ 6:43 am
Oh Motown. I may be a young man, but Smokey Robinson has to be one of the finest American songwriters of all time. There aren’t many love songs on a level with What Love Has Joined Together.
Jim Bob Junior
May 27, 2017 @ 7:40 pm
One of my favorites, was just listening to his Laid Back album this morning. The ABB is my favorite of all time thanks to a healthy dose of everything Allman from my parents. Only a true blues man can get away with spelling the name ‘Greg’ with three Gs.
May 27, 2017 @ 7:41 pm
Wow, that’s some sad news. Rest In Peace Mr. Allman. You will surely be missed. The boys just made damn good music.
May 27, 2017 @ 7:51 pm
Musical genius, him and his brother both. Rest in peace
May 27, 2017 @ 8:19 pm
Huge loss. The Allman Brothers inspired generations of southern blues bands. One of my favorites. RIP Greg.
May 27, 2017 @ 8:21 pm
RIP Gregg. 🙁
May 27, 2017 @ 8:25 pm
You will always be remembered in my heart
May 27, 2017 @ 8:26 pm
You will always be remembered in my heart one of the greatest voices and music rest in peace brother
May 28, 2017 @ 7:54 am
I can’t remember how many times I saw the ABB in concert back in the day but the first time was March, 1970 at the old Atlanta Municipal Auditorium. I was only 15 years old. Gregg’s vocal chops were outstanding and Duane Allman played some of the most incredible slide guitar I’ve ever heard. Saw Gregg play at the Grand Opera House in Macon on January 10, 2015. It would be the last concert Gregg Allman would ever play in his adopted hometown of Macon, GA. RIP, Midnight Rider….I can only imagine the jam session in heaven you, Duane, Berry and Butch are having.
May 28, 2017 @ 8:22 am
The Allman Brothers have been my favorite band since a teenager. It broke my heart to hear this news. It’s like a family member has passed away. So sorry for the family, friends and the fans.
Words are hard to come by,
Greg you will be greatly missed.
May 28, 2017 @ 10:04 am
As a onetime cover band drummer, i used to freakout trying to cover ABB songs.No one ever had the magic of their musical souls.Deep,true feeling and raw gutsy truth of their life inspiring songs will stay in vogue forever in my heart!
May 28, 2017 @ 10:34 am
Rest in peace Brother. You will never be forgotten in my heart and soul. Your music kept me going for 40 years. I will never stop listening. Peace Gregg
May 28, 2017 @ 1:26 pm
Being of older age myself I was lucky enough to see the original Band with Duane and Barry in syracuse,NY back in the day when the New riders of the Purple Sage (With Jerry Garcia on Pedal Steel) opened up for them. One of the best shows I ever saw and back then it was only 7 bucks for a ticket. But I will never forget it and trust me on this ……………..The Allman Brothers knew what they were doing and did it so great it still gives me great memories.
May 28, 2017 @ 2:28 pm
Good article. Thanks.
May 28, 2017 @ 4:18 pm
Cannot overemphasize how great Gregg was. That band influenced so many greats who would follow. Hank jr, Merle, Travis Tritt, charlie daniels all country artists who loved their sound. Southern rock to me is a cousin to country and most of us country guys also love southern rock.Enough with the legends dying already!
May 29, 2017 @ 12:25 am
he was a badass in the movie Rush
May 29, 2017 @ 7:05 am
Legend. Mad respect. In my opinion one of the best bands of all time.
I’ve been sick all weekend. Can’t imagine how Derek, Warren and others feel right now after Butch, Bruce and now Gregg all in short time.
May 29, 2017 @ 9:12 am
RIP Gregg. Butch is actually Derek’s uncle.
May 30, 2017 @ 1:57 pm
The greatest American band. R.I.P. to the man who made me want to sing.
By the way, Gregg hated the term “Southern Rock” – he said it was redundant. That all great rock and roll – and great music in general – started in the South anyway, so you might as well be saying, “Rock Rock.”
Love you, brother Gregg. Hope you’re back jamming with Duane, Barry, and Butch.
May 31, 2017 @ 6:45 am
One more player in the great band in the sky.