Ramble On, Ramblin' Man: Goodbye to Gregg Allman

I’m a music fan.

I’ve been a music fan – a serious music fan – since elementary school.

The origins of my love began with AM radio and 6am stumbling out of bed, while Mama rushed around the house, washing faces, laying out school clothes, and brushing spilled Cheerios from the table.

In pigtails and knee socks, I could sing every song on the radio.

During the summer, family vacations began equally early.

My parents would pull me and my brothers out of bed, get us dressed and fed, then we’d load the old station wagon with snacks, sodas, and our pillows, to begin the nearly 2-hour drive to the North Carolina coast.

Along the way, the radio would play and every song locked in, making the soundtrack for what would be my childhood memories.

I still remember my daddy’s favorites, as he kept a lot of 8-tracks on hand (I know I just blew somebody’s mind, as they furiously Google “8-track”).

For Daddy, it was the Eagles, the Marshall Tucker Band, Free, and the Allman Brothers Band.

These were the AM classics I remember, and while I’m pretty much a heavy metal headbanger, now, a piece of my childhood died today.

Gregg Allman, frontman and founding member of the Allman Brothers Band passed away today, due to complications from liver cancer.

The New York Times had a nice cover of Allman’s style and career today, in tribute.

The band’s lead singer and keyboardist, Mr. Allman was one of the principal architects of a taut, improvisatory fusion of blues, jazz, country and rock that — streamlined by inheritors like Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Marshall Tucker Band — became the Southern rock of the 1970s.

The group, which originally featured Mr. Allman’s older brother, Duane, on lead and slide guitar, was also a precursor to a generation of popular jam bands, like Widespread Panic and Phish, whose music features labyrinthine instrumental exchanges.

Mr. Allman’s percussive Hammond B-3 organ playing helped anchor the Allman Brothers’ rhythm section and provided a chuffing counterpoint to the often heated musical interplay between his brother and the band’s other lead guitarist, Dickey Betts.

Gregg Allman’s vocals, by turns squalling and brooding, took their cue from the anguished emoting of down-home blues singers like Elmore James, as well as from more sophisticated ones like Bobby Bland. Foremost among Mr. Allman’s influences as a vocalist, though, was the Mississippi-born blues and soul singer and guitarist known as Little Milton.

Gregg Allman was also married to Cher in the 70s, and the two have a son together, Elijah Blue.

Cher tweeted out a sad goodbye, using what was apparently their pet names for each other.

I think I’ll just say goodbye with one of my AM favorites, and tonight, I’ll dream of those sleepy summer mornings, traveling to Cherry Grove or Sunset Beach, and every other good memory associated with Gregg Allman’s voice.

Ramble on, Gregg. Ramble on.



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