Remembering Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers Band

Gregg Allman

Gregg Allman rehearses for All My Friends: Celebrating the Songs & Voice of Gregg Allman at The Fox Theatre on January 10, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Photo by Michael Loccisano/GABB14/Getty Images for Blackbird Productions

Gregg Allman, the vocalist, keyboardist and founding member of the legendary Allman Brothers Band, passed away on Saturday from liver cancer at the age of 69. Allman had been in poor health over the last few years, but his passing still came as shock to many fans.

For me, I always thought Gregg would be like of Keith Richards – defying the odds of drugs and aging. When I read he was gone, it shook me pretty hard.

I’ve been working in rock radio for 16 years. One of the first big projects I helped put together was in 2003 – an interview with Gregg Allman and Warren Haynes, who were promoting the band’s recent release, ‘Hittin’ The Note. The night before the interview, the band had played Toronto’s Molson Amphitheater, and closed the show with an incredible version of Derek and the Dominoes’ ‘Layla’. Gregg’s late brother Duane had been in that band with Eric Clapton, and it was so appropriate to hear the ABB deliver that classic song.

I told Gregg how moved I was hearing ‘Layla’ delivered live. He smiled and said, ‘Thanks, brother.’

LAYLA – THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND WITH ERIC CLAPTON

I saw the Allman Brothers Band perform countless times over the course of 25 years, including a few special nights during their legendary 40th anniversary run at The Beacon Theater in New York City. One show featured guest appearances from Bonnie Bramlett and her daughter Bekka, who ran through an awesome version of Delaney and Bonnie’s ‘Comin’ Home’. The other featured a visit from Sheryl Crow, and outstanding takes on ‘Rockin’ Horse’ and ‘Black-Hearted Woman’.

During that 40th Anniversary run, the Allmans were also joined onstage for two nights by Eric Clapton. While I’ve always wished I could have been there, I still listen to those shows in my collection, and when cuts show up on SiriusXM Jam On.

I experienced Gregg and the Allman Brothers Band in arenas, amphitheaters and theaters. They were powerful musicians playing amazing rock music. They would play all night, though as Gregg once said, “the Allman Brothers aren’t a jam band. They’re a band that jams.”

Today, I hope Gregg is with brother Duane, and his other fallen bandmates, including Butch Trucks and Berry Oakley, and having one hell of a jam session.

Rest in peace, Brother Gregg.

THE ALLMAN BROTHERS LIVE AT FILLMORE EAST

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