In the mid '60's, guitarist Duane Allman and his kid brother, keyboard/vocalist Gregg, were struggling as the Allman Joys. That outfit gave way to Hour Glass who managed to get a recording contract and served as opening act fodder at the Fillmore West. After two inconsequential albums, the record label rejected a third. That spelled the temporary end. Duane found work as a session guitarist before Phil Walden, head of the Capricorn Records, suggested Duane start his own group which he did.
Duane's first move was to install his brother as the lead singer. Nobody liked that idea even though Gregg also handled keyboards.
The Allman Brother's Band released their self-titled debut in late '69 and hit the road playing over 500 shows in 30 months. On top of that, they recorded their sophomore album "Idlewild South." It had the classic "Memories Of Elizabeth Reed." Since the group was perpetually on the road it was natural to release a live album. "At The Fillmore," a double set, was a guitar jam paradise. The Allman's were soaring.
Riding his motorcycle home, following a birthday party for the wife of the band's bass player, Duane swerved to miss a truck and crashed. Three hours later, following extensive surgery, one of the great guitarists of the time was gone. The devastating loss left Gregg on his own. Sure, he had the band but there was no way to fill the void. Still, the Allman Brother's Band persevered. "Eat A Peach" arrived in early '72 and featured Duane's last recordings. "Mountain Jam" and "One Way Out."
The Allman Brothers Band's "Brothers And Sisters" contained "Ramblin' Man," which was their biggest pop hit. Ironically, in light of future events, it was kept out of the top spot on the pop chart by Cher's, "Half Breed."
Gregg released a successful solo album, "Laid Back," in '73. He even had a hit with "Midnight Rider." But '75 was not a good one for the surviving Allman. Busted and under threat of serious jail time Allman testified against the band's former road manager regarding drug trafficking. John Herring got seventy-five years. For turning on a friend, the other Allman Band members disowned Gregg. He compounded his troubles by marrying Cher (formerly of Sonny and Cher). Prior to taking their vows, Allman and Cher recorded a forgettable album. That should have been a 'red flag'.
That "happy" union lasted eight days or so - depending on how you count it. Still, they had a son together- Elijah Blue Allman (aka Phillips Exeter Blue).
Meanwhile, it seemed that the Allman Brothers Band had run its course and Gregg wasn't in much better shape. A lackluster solo career got a boost with "I'm No Angel," the title track from his '86 album.
As the '90s dawned, the Allman Brothers Band revived itself with a cleaned-up Gregg back in the fold (it'd be strange to have an Allman Brothers Band without an Allman brother). They toured and even took a shot at recording. Gregg's solo career got tossed into the backseat.
Then there were the health issues. Allman underwent a successful liver transplant in '10 at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL. He had been battling Hepatitis C for several years. "I changed my ways years ago, but we can't turn back time," he said in a statement. "Every day is a gift, and I can't wait to get back on the road making music with my friends."
Gregg Allman Albums:
1973 Laid Back
1974 The Gregg Allman Tour (live)
1977 Playin' Up A Storm - The Gregg Allman Band
1977 Two The Hard Way - Allman and Woman (Cher)
1986 I'm No Angel - The Gregg Allman Band
1988 Just Before The Bullets Fly - The Gregg Allman Band
1997 Searching For Simplicity
1997 One More Try: An Anthology
2002 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection
2002 No Stranger To The Dark: The Best Of Gregg Allman
2011 Low Country Blues