Rock Blog: Gregg Allman – Goodnight Midnight Rider

May 30, 2017

© Ron Elkman

Gregg Allman was born to sing the blues. That's an easy thing to say, and really cliche, but in this case, so very true. Gregg Allman was gifted from the start with a tremendous voice that he honed on a little known singer named Little Milton. David Bromberg wrote a song titled “You’ve Got to Suffer if You Want to Sing the Blues”. Gregg Allman went through the wringer before he sadly left us this past Saturday.


His father was murdered when he was two years old. His first two bands, the Allman Joys and The Hourglass, were all but ignored by radio and the audience alike. They reformed and changed the name to The Allman Brothers Band, signed to Atlantic records, where their first two albums also got little attention. After they released their landmark album, and one of the definitive live albums Live At The Fillmore East, Gregg’s brother, the legendary Duane Allman, was killed in a motorcycle accident. Almost a year later to the day, the Allman Brothers' bass player Berry Oakley was also killed in a motorcycle accident, three blocks from the scene of brother Duane's accident.



Enough? Gregg suffered from alcohol abuse. He suffered from heroin abuse. He was arrested, and avoided jail by ratting out a road manager, who was sentenced to 75 years in jail. A few years back he discovered he had hepatitis C. Then he got a liver transplant. He was forced to fire longtime friend and Allman's guitarist Dickie Betts. Then in 1975 he married Cher in...and got a separation about a week later. Then reconciled. Then divorced. Then got married a few more times.



Gregg Allman was definitely born to sing the blues. I’d go as far to say that he was about the best white blues singer ever. I’m glad I got to see the Allmans in many different versions. I’m even glad I got to see a show where he was too drunk to take the stage. It was sad, but a fitting part of the legacy. The Allman Brothers were part of the American landscape of the melding of rock, blues, soul, gospel and jam bands. An important band who eared the respect they received. Gregg Allman will be missed by many. Just don't judge this band by 'Ramblin Man'', because it wouldn’t be fair – The biggest Allman Brothers hit was one of the rare times Gregg didn’t sing.


RIP Midnight Rider.




Sergeant Hairclub AKA Dave Richards