GREGG ALLMAN, THE DEATH OF A LEGEND.
Gregory Lenoir Allman went out on Saturday, May 27th, 2017, at his home in Georgia, at the age of sixty nine.
Again one gone too early! But that one, there was no two as him.
He belonged to the race of the survivors who continue at all costs their way in spite of the strokes of fate. And his way, we can say without exaggerating that it was particularly rocky. Born in Nashville Tennessee, on December 8th, 1947, the fate strikes him two years later when his father is gunned down by a hitchhiking guy he picked up.
Deprived of a father figure, he developed a limitless admirationfor his older brother, Duane. Later, this one will pull him in an extraordinary musical outing which will last about forty five years, the Allman Brothers Band (set up in 1969).
The success is there but the life prepares another terrible blow for Gregg.
In 1971, he has to face the death of his adored brother, mown in full glory in an accident of motorcycle. He surmounts as he can this terrible ordeal but he falls again in full tragedy one the year later with the death of the bass player Berry Oakley (who also died at the handlebars of a bike, practically in the same place as Duane)
Nevertheless, Gregg hangs on and continues with his buddies musicians the adventure of the Allman Brothers Band, become a real institution in the United States.
However, the band is going to face a series of new developments that would make a television serial. Anything goes ! Excess in any kinds (repeated feminine conquests, abuse of drugs, alcohol with high dose), internal dressing-downs and judicial problems.
To avoid the prison, Gregg testifies against his road manager accused of drug trafficking, so incurring the condemnation of the other members of the band. The split becomes inevitable.
From then on, Gregg will alternate solo careers and reformations of the Allman Brothers Band while continuing to live a dissolute life (and it is not its marriage so short as tempestuous with the singer Cher that will sort out things).
From 1990 (date of the ultimate reunion of the combo), he will lead the ABB until its term in 2014.
But his chaotic lifestyle left him irreversible aftereffects. In 2007, he is diagnosed with a hepatitis C. In 2010, he is discovered with three tumors to the liver and he has to undergo a transplant. In 2011, he goes back again under the knife for a surgical operation at the level of the lungs.
More or less restored, hiding his health to the public, he keeps all the same playing his music until his strengths abandon him.
Obliged to cancel his concerts in the autumn, 2016, he holds out as he can but ends up succumbing to a cancer of the liver on May 27th, 2017.
The night before his death, he was still listening to the final mixing of some titles of his last album. Musician up to the end!
So there is an exceptional destiny for a man who was just as much.
But beyond his misbehaviors specific to a rocker's life, besides his long blond hair and his tattoos, we shall remember especially him for something else: his voice, his music, his talent.
Gregg Allman had the ideal voice to sing the blues and the rock: quite at the same time husky, pleasant, hot, emotional and melodious (on the first album of the ABB, « It’s not my cross to bear » and « Whipping Post » illustrate perfectly this description).
He also had his own way to compose by adding melodic progressions in minor mode to major chords of blues (« Please call home », « Come and go blues »).
Reflecting an obvious poetic sense, the lyrics of some of his songs exceeded widely the framework of the Rock (the ecstatic « Dreams »).
Without being a virtuoso of keyboards, he played organ and piano in a simple but effective way, with great sensibility (he could also manage with a guitar).
Magnificently gifted to compose and perform poignant and nostalgic songs, he offered to the world unforgettable tunes (sublime « Melissa » and magnificent « Oncoming traffic » extracted from the live « The Gregg Allman Tour »).
But overall, with his brother Duane (and also the other members of the Allman Brothers Band), he definitively put the bases of the "Southern rock" by mixing the different musical tendancies stemming from the states of the South (blues, soul, jazz, country music and rock’n’roll), influencing that way an incalculable number of musicians.
Pioneer of Southern rock, founder member of a mythical band, Gregg Allman stood out his time of an indelible imprint (it is not accidentally that Molly Hatchet knew the success with a cover of "Dreams" in hard rock version).
He leaves an immense void in the world of the music but also in our hearts and our souls.
He asserted that he sometimes felt the presence of his dead brother by his side. There, he left joining him for ever.
One more morning I had to wake up with the blues.