The news about Gregg Alman floored me.
I didn’t expect it to. I knew his health had been bad for years and that he had canceled all his tours for the rest of the year. I had heard the rumors of hospice.
Yet it floored me.
Part of it is that I am always shocked when someone dies of natural causes before the age of 70. Somehow, no matter what they’ve done to their bodies beforehand, I expect them to make it to that magic 70 and so for Gregg to die at 69 just seems wrong, like the universe cheated.
And part of it is that I just can’t imagine a world without Gregg Allman in it.
My fist visual memory of Gregg was sometime in the early 70s. It was an outdoor concert somewhere in South Carolina or Georgia. We had been there all day and I fell asleep on the ground with music still going. I woke up around midnight and the Allman Brothers were onstage. Gregg was at the piano, the lights making his hair gleam as it flowed down his back. I don’t remember the music that night. I just remember thinking he looked like a god.
Ever since then, Gregg and the other Allman Brothers were a part of my life. But we lost Duane and Butch early and others since then. For me, it has been Gregg who held the tradition together, with the group or solo. And now he is gone.
But of course, the tradition goes on. And we don’t live in a world without Gregg and the other Allmans . Any time a musician anywhere plays “Whipping Post” or Midnight Rider: they are alive. Whenever we hear any of the familiar songs and that distinctive voice, Gregg is with us.
Ride on,Midnight Rider.