Allman Brothers Bandmates Haynes, Leavell, Trucks and Betts Pay Tribute to Gregg Allman On Stage and In Print
In words and music, former Allman Brothers Band members Warren Haynes, Chuck Leavell, Derek Trucks (with the Tedeschi Trucks Band), and Dickey Betts offered separate tributes to their friend and bandmate, Gregg Allman, just hours after his death.
Allman passed away peacefully at his home in Savannah, Georgia Saturday. He was 69.
He was in Rochester last August to receive medical care at Mayo Clinic. A statement on his official website indicated at the time Allman had canceled his tour dates due to serious health issues. The statement did not provide any specific information about his health issues.
At the Summer Camp Music Festival in Chillicothe, Ill., guitarist Warren Haynes led his band Gov't Mule through an emotional set that included a couple of Allman Brothers Band songs. You can watch video of their set above.
Haynes played guitar with the Allman Brothers from 1989-97 and again from 2000-14, after which the band announced their retirement.
Gov't Mule performed "Dreams" as the second song of the set, a song from the Allman Brothers' 1969 debut. They also broke out - for only the third time ever, according to JamBase - Allman's signature song, "Whipping Post," which of course Haynes played countless times with the Allman Brothers Band.
In a poignant remembrance posted to Facebook yesterday, Haynes wrote about his experience as an Allman Brothers Band fan, long before becoming a member, writing "I learned an enormous amount about singing and songwriting from him-most of it before we ever met."
"I was moved by Gregg’s voice when I first heard the Allman Brothers Band in 1969. I was nine years old," he posted. I had not even picked up a guitar yet but thanks to my to older brothers I had been exposed to a lot of great soul music with the best singers in the world. But this was something different. This music was making a deep emotional connection with me even though it was too complex for me to really understand. Somehow, though, it had this 'common man' quality that allowed that music to connect with people on so many different levels without analyzing the ingredients that went into it — soul, blues, rock, country, jazz-all mixed together in a way no one had ever done before. And on top of it all was this beautiful voice that could be soothing, terrifying, mellow, angry, and amazingly natural and soulful all at the same time-and instantly captivating. It drew me in. It drew us all in."
"Every guitar player in every Southern town was listening to the Live at Fillmore East record and worshipping at the altar of Duane Allman and Dickey Betts. But the icing on the cake was always Gregg’s voice. That’s what separated the ABB from being a band that only connected with music freaks. Women whom previously had only listened to the radio would tolerate the long jams to get to the parts where Gregg melted their souls with that angelic voice. It turned casual music fans into fanatical fans who were discovering a new multi-dimensional music that a few years prior wasn’t even in existence. And it was all due to Gregg’s voice — and the songs."
Leavell, who played keyboards with the Allman Brothers Band in the '70s, also penned a touching tribute which, like Haynes', shows the influence Gregg exerted on his future bandmates in their youth. "I used to go see the Allman Joys at the Fort Brandon Armory in Tuscaloosa, Alabama when I was a young aspiring musician of 13 and 14 years old. He mesmerized me with his talent ... that incredible voice, his understated yet strong stage presence," he wrote. "I was so fortunate to get the call from my pal Johnny Sandlin to play on that project, and as a then 19-year old keyboard player trying to find his way, it was the dream offer of a lifetime. Playing on 'Laid Back' was a life changing experience for me, but even more was to come, when the jam sessions after hours with the other members of the ABB resulted in me being asked to join the band.
During that time, Gregg was much like a big brother to me, as Dickey [Betts] was in his own way. Gregg was always gracious to me ... making sure I was included in everything from photo sessions to various parties and events ... and even sometimes asking me to accompany him to events not related to the band’s duties ... Thank you, Gregg ... for your inspiration, for your talent, for your loyal friendship and for the amazing human being you are. I am forever grateful for my relationship with you, for sharing the stage with you so many times, for the honor of recording with you on some records that have stood the test of time. You will always be my hero and I am your biggest fan."
The Tedeschi Trucks band was also on stage last night, remembering their friend. The Jacksonville, Fla., show opened with the Allman Brothers' "Ain't Wastin No More Time," according to the Florida Times-Union. Guitarist Derek Trucks met his wife and band co-leader Susan Tedeschi while she was opening for the Allman Brothers Band and he was a member. Trucks' uncle, the drummer Butch Trucks, was a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band. He died by suicide earlier this year.
An emotional Tedeschi later walked on stage with just a keyboardist, reflecting on how many friends the band has lost recently, including Leon Russell and Col. Bruce Hampton, in addition to Allman and Trucks. "It's getting really difficult to deal with," she said, before playing Russell's "Song For You," immediately followed by the Allman Brothers' classic "Statesboro Blues," with the rest of the band joining. Finally, Trucks struggled to maintain composure while playing a solo "Amazing Grace" for their lost friends.
Another founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, guitarist Dickey Betts, who was ousted in 2000 after the band told him get clean, also paid tribute to his old friend and bandmate. The two have since made peace. Betts wrote, "It’s too soon to properly process this. I’m so glad I was able to have a couple good talks with him before he passed. In fact I was about to call him to check and see how he was when I got the call. It’s a very sad thing. I, along with the entire Great Southern family, pass along my deepest sympathies to Gregg’s family, friends, and fans."
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