I arrived in Statesboro, Georgia, in August 1971 from Philadelphia to attend Georgia Southern College. Little did I know then how much south Georgia culture would become a fixture in my life. At the time you simply could not walk by any dormitory either on or off campus without hearing the Allman Brothers’ Live at the Fillmore East blaring through walls or out open windows. Of course, more often than not the seminal anthem Statesboro Blues would infuse the air of this small southern college town as if in competition with the smell of the paper mills from Savannah when the wind blew westerly.
Incredibly as I was reading the news of Gregg Allman’s death on the computer Statesboro Blues invaded my space on Pandora. Keeping with the music mysticism, I could not help but not only wax nostalgic but started to sing another song, “if you believe in forever, then life is just a one-night stand…if there’s a rock n roll heaven, you know they’ve got a hell of a band.” Thank you Righteous Brothers.
Since that time I have been an Allman Brothers Band devotee, there never being a time when I was not in possession of Live at the Fillmore East either in album, eight-track, cassette, or compact disc. Often I would be in possession of two copies of each knowing full well that I would wear out one and could not go a day without the security blanket of the Allmans in the ready.
I have seen them at least a dozen times, did a meet and greet about 20 years ago backstage at the Nissan Pavilion in Manassas, Virginia, and have taken my sons to see them on numerous occasions. Both of my sons being musicians there was a great appreciation for the band even though their father had literally butchered their music whenever we went for a ride in the car.
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About ten years ago I took my youngest son, who plays various instruments, to see Dicky Betts twice in two weeks in Pennsylvania and on one occasion he remarked that listening to him changed his life. Warren Haynes was more than a capable replacement and Derek Trucks is a very fine musician in his own right but it is obvious his formative years were not only influenced but shaped by the music of the band his uncle, Butch, was involved in from the beginning.
The passing of Savannah resident Gregg Allman will affect me deeply. It is the passing of an era, an era that touched 46 years of my life. I now live in California and next year qualify for Medicare but cannot imagine a day going by without listening to the Allmans or Gregg or Derek on Pandora or Spotify, my Mp3, or the car radio or CD player.
While I still talk regularly with my college sweetheart who lives in Savannah, Gregg Allman’s soulful song Queen of Hearts will forever remain “our song,” even though we have not dated in over four decades. Music is so important to the Baby Boomer generation. I have gone through several rebirths over the decades, southern rock, heavy metal, grunge, punk rock, even a touch of rap, but the one constant through it all has been my devotion to the Allman Brothers Band.
Several years ago I drew up my will and requested that five songs be played at my celebration of life, and of course heading the list is One Way Out. How fitting that this is the last song that Gregg performed in concert before his death. In many ways I will always have Georgia on my Mind but the Allman Brothers will forever enshrine the happy days I spent in Statesboro all those years ago. Statesboro Blues? Only in song. Rest in Peace, Gregg, you have earned it.