In the legendary canon of Southern rock music, Gregg Allman should be listed as one of its chief prophets, if not one of its actual gods.
Allman, who co-founded the Macon, Georgia–based Allman Brothers Band with his brother Duane in the late 1960s, was one of the premier voices of the movement and one of its most talented songwriters. And although the band would sell millions of albums—like platinum records Eat a Peach and Brothers & Sisters—the Allman Brothers were primarily known for their live music performances.
Of their live shows, Rolling Stone‘s Mikal Gilmore writes, “[they] mixed bedrock aggression and high-flown invention in ways no other group did.” What was their breakthrough moment with the public? A live double-album, of course: At Fillmore East.
But that isn’t to say their weren’t cracks in the veneer. Allman lost his brother Duane to a motorcycle accident in 1971, and the band broke up a handful of times. As Gilmore notes, the death of his brother basically killed Allman’s spirits, turning him to drugs and alcohol.
However, “Gregg Allman thrived at musical moments that he may not even have remembered clearly later,” notes Gilmore.
A full-blown addict in the ’70s, Allman would famously marry Cher in 1975—and his recklessness would lead to the band’s first breakup in ’76 (he and Cher would divorce in ’79).
The band would eventually have a second coming in the ’80s and ’90s, and eased their way, seamlessly, back into the jam-band scene.
Below, watch the band perform their classic “Melissa” in 1981.
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