Gregg Allman of Allman Brothers Band dies at 69

Gregg Allman of Allman Brothers Band dies at 69

May 27, 2017

Gregg Allman, who founded Allman Brothers Band with his brother, Duane, has died due to health reasons at his home in Savannah, Georgia. He was 69. 

The message was posted on his website, greggallman.com.

Gregg struggled with many health issues over the past several years. During that time, Gregg considered being on the road playing music with his brothers and solo band for his beloved fans, essential medicine for his soul. Playing music lifted him up and kept him going during the toughest of times.

Gregg Allman, the man

Gregg was born on December 8, 1947, in Nashville, Tennessee, to Willis Turner Allman and Geraldine Robbins Allman. Gregg and his elder brother, Duane, attended Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon, Tennessee. Gregg and Duane were brought up by their mother after their father was killed by a hitchhiker in 1949. The family moved to Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1959, but they regularly visited Nashville. 

Growing up in the Music City of America, Nashville, the two brothers developed a fascination for music at an early age. In 1960, they attended a concert in Nashville and saw celebrated musicians Otis Redding, B. B. King, and Patti LaBelle perform live. 

Back in Florida, they joined a YMCA group called the Y-Teens, where they first performed music on stage. They became friends with Floyd Miles of the band, the Houserockers, and jammed with him regularly. 

The two Allman brothers formed a band, the Escorts, which later evolved into the Allman Joys. They played locally in Florida, and in 1965, did a toured throughout the Southeast. At the time, they mostly played covers. They also lived briefly in St. Louis, where they performed with several local musicians including Johnny Sandlin and Paul Hornsby.

In the late 60s, they moved to Los Angeles and performed under the new name, the Hour Glass. They ended up disbanding, with Duane moving back to Florida. They reunited in March 1969 and relocated to Macon, Georgia.

They released two albums, The Allman Brothers (1969) and Idlewild South (1970,) which met with lukewarm response. However, their live performances and jam sessions continued to captivate the audience. In 1971, they recorded a "live" album at the Fillmore East in New York. The album, named "At Fillmore East," was an instant hit with the fans and peaked at number thirteen on Billboard's Top Pop Albums chart, and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America that year. 

The commercial success of the album brought them lots of fame and wealth, and also its side-effects - drugs. 

Duane was killed in a motorcycle accident in October 1971, in Macon. The band took a break and came back with their next studio album, "Eat a Peach," which was a hit and quickly reached number four on Billboard's Top 200 Pop Albums chart. 

They were now among the biggest rock bands of the 1970s. They were mostly playing arenas and stadiums, touring in their personal planes, and living the dream.

Allman was married to Cher for three years - 1975 to 1978. After taking a break after their divorce, Gregg and the band reunited in 1978 and added two new members: Dan Toler and David Goldflies. Their subsequent albums, Enlightened Rogues (1979), Reach for the Sky (1980), and Brothers of the Road (1981,) failed, and the band broke up in 82.

In 1987, he released his solo album, I'm No Angel. The title track, "I'm No Angel," peaked at Number 49 on the Billboard Hot 100, and at Number 1 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks. The song was also covered by Cher
Their next albums Shades of Two Worlds (1992) and Where It All Begins (1994,) had a few hits but were not a major success in comparison with their previous works. 

Allman's alcohol problem continued to be a problem in the early nineties. When the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall in 1995, Allman could not finish his acceptance speech because he was so drunk. 

Allman moved to Savannah, Georgia, in 2000, and the band released their final studio album, Hittin' the Note, in 2003. They continued to perform live throughout the 2000s, with success. In 2009, Eric Clapton jammed with them at the Beacon Theater.

Allman was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 2007, which he attributed to a dirty tattoo needle. In 2010, he underwent a liver transplant. Then he also had to go through a lung surgery. Following his medical treatments, Allman went to rehab in 2012 for his addiction.

However, he never left music, or he never let the music leave him. He kept busy performing with his band, releasing the live album Gregg Allman Live: Back to Macon, GA, in 2015. He played music until his death in May 2017. His last album, Southern Blood, was due to be released in January 2017, but there haven't been any updates on it because of his health problems. The CD was available for pre-order on his [website].

Allman is survived by his wife, Shannon Allman, his children, Devon, Elijah Blue, Delilah Island Kurtom and Layla Brooklyn Allman and three grandchildren.