Saturday, July 22, 2017

Best Magazine Reads: 10 things I learned about Gregg Allman in Rolling Stone's tribute

Although blues and Southern rock have never been my top musical genres, I always really liked and respected the Allman Brothers. It's strange that I think of those as relatively joyful tunes (perhaps because I listened to them a lot in my care-free early 20s), when in fact leader Gregg Allman was a sorrowful, walking ghost for basically his entire life.

Personal details beyond the death of his bandmate and brother Duane in 1971 and his marriage to Cher have always been sparse. But the always-great Mikal Gilmore grabs some good ones in his tribute, "The Last Brother," in the June 29 issue of Rolling Stone.
  1. Referring to Duane, Gilmore writes: "In the early Seventies, following one of the Allman Brothers Band's legendary three-hour shows, Gregg watched horror movies with the sound off, keeping an empty chair nearby. He maintained that a spirit sat in that chair. Into the last years of his life, he said he still heard from that ghost every night."
  2. Gregg's father fought at Normandy in World War II and returned home with what would today be called post-traumatic stress. He was murdered on county road by a man who stole his car.
  3. He couldn't stand racism or the Vietnam War, and he shot himself in the foot to get out of going.
  4. After a falling out, and before Duane and Gregg got back together to form the Allman Brothers, Gregg was stuck playing out a contract with a pop band he hated in Los Angeles and even considered suicide while Duane had great success as a session musician back home in the south.
  5. The band picked its name in a blind poll and it was unanimously the Allman Brothers.
  6. Gregg hated that the last thing he ever said to Duane before his brother died in a motorcycle crash was a lie, denying that he had stolen Duane's cocaine when he really had.
  7. The Allmans held a benefit concert to help their friend Jimmy Carter withstand the costs of the 1974 primaries. He probably made it to the presidency because of the band, and Gregg ate with Carter at his first meal in the White House.
  8. Gregg met Cher in 1975 at the Troubadour in L.A. and thought she smelled like a mermaid would smell. On her singing though, he thought she was bad. The couple released what most would say was his worst album, as Allman and Woman.
  9. The couple's tour didn't work, Gregg passed out in a plate of spaghetti, and they got divorced.
  10. Despite the success of 1986's "I'm No Angel" and the 1989 reformation and tour of the Allman Brothers Band, Gregg hit his most rock bottom of drinking, until he gave a poor speech when being elected to the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, and decided to quit drinking for good.