Gregg Allman, co-founder of Seminal Southern Rock Band The Allman Brothers, Has Died


LOS ANGELES - Gregg Allman, co-founder of the seminal Southern rock band The Allman Brothers, has died. He was 69.

Ken Weinstein, Allman’s publicist said the cause of death was complications of liver cancer.

As the band’s lead singer and keyboardist, Allman was helped form its sound with its trademark fusion of blues, jazz, country and rock that was also shared by bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Marshall Tucker Band in the 1970s.

The group, had featured Allman’s older brother, Duane, who played lead and slide guitar, prior to his death in a motorcycle crash in 1971.

The band unanimously decided to continue on after Duane’s death, and enlisted Lamar Williams on bass and Chuck Leavell on piano. The band began recording Brothers and Sisters, their follow-up album, and Betts became the group's de facto leader during the recording process. Meanwhile, after some internal disagreements, Allman began recording a solo album, which he titled Laid Back. The sessions for both albums often overlapped and its creation caused tension within the rest of the band. Both albums were released in the autumn of 1973, with Brothers and Sisters cementing the Allman Brothers' place among the biggest rock bands of the 1970s.

"Everything that we’d done before—the touring, the recording—culminated in that one album", Allman recalled. "Ramblin' Man", Betts' country-infused number, received interest from radio stations immediately, and it rose to number two on the Billboard Hot 100. The Allman Brothers Band returned to touring, playing larger venues, receiving more profit and dealing with less friendship, miscommunication and spiraling drug problems. This culminated in a backstage brawl when the band played with the Grateful Dead at Washington's RFK Stadium in June 1973, which resulted in the firing of three of the band's longtime roadies. The band played arenas and stadiums almost solely as their drug use escalated. In 1974, the band was regularly making $100,000 per show, and was renting the Starship, a customized Boeing 720B used by Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. "When [we] got that goddamn plane, it was the beginning of the end", said Allman at the time.

By 1977 Gregg Allman was married to Cher – the third of six wives – with whom he spent three difficult years. The two had a son, musician Elijah Blue Allman, before divorcing in 1978.

Allman kept a low during the 1980s when the band’s gritty sound didn't fit the synth-pop style of the era. Ultimately, his 1987 album "I'm No Angel," which became a surprise hit with fans.

The Allman Brothers reunited in 1989 and would tour on and off over the next 25 years, earning induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

Actor William Hurt had been set to portray Gregg Allman in the film, "Midnight Rider," but filming was suspended in 2014 when an assistant camera operator was struck and killed by a train on the movie's Georgia set.

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