There’s always been a special place in my heart for The Allman Brothers Band.
I was listening to their music way back when I was a child. I have an older brother (b. 1950), as many of you know, who turned me on to a lot of good music just from me listening to what he and his friends were listening to back then. I remember my mother bought me this cool four album boxed set called Superstars of the 70s back when I was about 12 years old in ’73 or thereabouts. The very first artist listed on the cover was The Allman Brothers Band. Of course, it was alphabetical, but who’s paying attention to that.
The ABB song on that album was One Way Out. I played that thing till it wore out the grooves. I still have that boxed set, actually. Since then, though, I’ve acquired every piece of music that I could find that had been performed by the Allman Bros and pressed onto vinyl or burned on a CD. I never had the chance to see them live, though.
I’ve read other books about The Allman Brothers Band before. One good one was Scott Freeman’s Midnight Riders – The Story of The Allman Brothers Band. So, when I heard that Gregg Allman was coming out with a book about his life, I couldn’t wait. I had the thing on hold at my public library before it was even released. Sorry Gregory, I’ve been in some down-and-out financial times lately. I couldn’t afford to buy the book. It’s high on my want list, though… just as soon as I have a buck or two to spare.
The library came through for me finally. Evidently, there are quite a few ABB/Gregg Allman fans here in Tampa because I was like 42nd or so on the hold list when I first placed the hold. It took nearly six months to get my hands on the book. It was worth the wait, lemme tell ya’. I enjoyed reading this man’s life story. However, this book brought on a whole slew of emotional reactions while reading it and afterwards while contemplating it.
There’s a melancholy side to my appreciation of all things Allman Bros. When I first became a fan of this band, I was, as most were, awed by Duane Allman’s guitar playing. Shortly after really becoming a fan, I found out that Duane had died just a year or two earlier. That hit me. I remember thinking, “Man! Another cool cat who could jam like hell is gone from this place.” I’ve had that thought often over the years… Hendrix, Morrison, Stevie Ray, etc. It makes us wonder what could have been had they all hung out a while longer.
I remember one trip home from visiting my mom up in her cabin near Robbinsville, NC, I stopped for a bite to eat and cup of hot coffee at a Macdonald’s off the Interstate in Gainesville, FL. It was about 10PM and the King Biscuit Flour Hour was on Rock 104. It was a cold-ass November night and I had to be at work the next morning at 8AM. KBFH was doing a special on The Allman Brothers Band. I sat in that parking lot till nearly 1AM listening to that entire show. I didn’t want to drive out of range.
As I read Gregg Allman’s life story flow off the page in a somewhat rambling and comfortable conversational pace, I was saddened, elated, interested, enlightened, awed, spent, and content. As we bikers like to say, “What a ride, man!” Gregory Lenoir Allman has had one helluva life, friends. I love what he says about it at the very end of the book,
I must have said this a million times, but if I died today, I have had me a blast. I really mean that — if I fell over dead right now, I have led some kind of life. I wouldn’t trade it for nobody’s, but I don’t know if I’d do it again. If somebody offered me a second round, I think I’d have to pass on it.*
If you’re a fan of The Allman Brothers Band or Gregg or Duane, etc., I cannot more strongly recommend this book to you. Beware, Gregory (he really doesn’t like “Gregg”) doesn’t candy coat the subject matter or the language in this book. It’s definitely R rated… mature old hippies and bikers only.
Gregory, I doubt you’ll ever read this, but you, brother Duane, Berry, and all the brothers past and present have touched my life. I wish you the very best and a fabulous old age rocking on that porch remembering it all. From one ol’ biker to another, ride safely, brother!
Something to listen to while you’re reading this:
Further reading and information: