Southern rock legend Gregg Allman dies at 69


Gregg Allman performs at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, 2015
Gregg Allman performs at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, 2015 (Terry Wyatt/Getty Images)

Gregg Allman, the singer-songwriter who helped shape a generation of southern rock with the Allman Brothers, has died at age 69. Allman's death was confirmed by Billboard; no further details are yet available, but Allman faced a range of health challenges in recent years.

With his brother, lauded guitarist Duane Allman, Gregg Allman founded the Allman Brothers Band in 1969. The band became among the most popular groups of the '70s, helping to shape southern rock and influencing later groups ranging from Lynyrd Skynrd to Phish. With the Allman Brothers Band, Gregg Allman was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

Amid the Allman Brothers' musical successes — which included the #2 hit single "Ramblin' Man" (1973) and the 1971 record At Fillmore East, widely regarded as one of the all-time great live albums — the band faced repeated tragedies. Foremost among them was the premature loss of Duane Allman, who was killed in a 1971 motorcycle accident at the age of only 24. The band's next album, Eat a Peach (1972), opened with "Ain't Wastin' Time No More," Gregg's tribute to Duane.

In 1972, the group's bassist Berry Oakley died in another motorcycle crash, just a few blocks from the spot where Duane Allman had crashed in the band's home town of Macon, Georgia.

The band continued on with members including Gregg Allman and cofounder Dickey Betts, releasing a continued series of hit records and drawing huge crowds on tour. Gregg Allman also recorded as a solo artist, with albums including the top-five hit Low Country Blues (2001). He struggled with addiction for decades, contributing to his health woes in his final years although he was sober since the mid-1990s. He was married six times, including a late-'70s union with Cher.

"The Allmans fused country blues with San Francisco-style extended improvisation," notes Rolling Stone, "and their sound created a template for countless jam bands to come. Gregg Allman was blessed with one of blues-rock's great growling voices and, along with his Hammond B-3 organ playing, beholden to Booker T. Jones, had a deep emotional power."

In a 2008 tribute, ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons wrote that the Allman Brothers Band "defined the best of every music from the American South in that time."

comments powered by Disqus