From page 18 of Classic Rock Magazine September 2007
Flying solo in London, the surviving Allman Brother talks about musical highs and pharmaceutical lows.
INTERVIEW: HENRY YATES
Q Good times, bad times. The Allman Brothers Band have had their share. Feted for their brand of southern-fried blues when they arrived on the scene in 1969, the band were just as quickly hobbled by the brace of motorcycle crashes that killed founding guitarist Duane Allman in 1971 and then bassist Berry Oakley in '72. Their legacy, it seemed, would rest on 1971's At Mutate East, and Duane's spine-tingling duel with Clapton on Layla.
And yet, apart from the occasional hiatus as the surviving members dabble in narcotics and/ or solo projects, the band have soldiered on even flourished through the decades, with vocalist/organ player Gregg Allman justifying the use of the surname, and the line-up's stellar musicianship ensuring huge turnouts when they hit the road.
When Gregg touched down for a rare solo show in London, he talked to Classic Rock about the past and the future.
The Allman Brothers but rarely release studio albums. We've never danced for the record company. We only put out records when we have the. right material, n terms
of writing, I find it helps to be either real down-and-out or real happy — and the latter of the two works best. I mean, I just recently got divorced. We'd been together 11 years and married for six. I won't say anything bad about her because she was one hell of a lady. But as soon as she left, I started writing so much. It won't be much longer until we go into the studio. Nothing seems to stop the Allmans.
There was one time when it almost ended. It was 2000, we'd just finished a tour and we came offstage, and I had my letter of resignation in my back pocket. I just couldn't put up with Dickey [Betts, guitarist] any more. It turned out that Butch [Trucks,
drums] had his letter typed out too. In the end Dickey was asked to leave. I just didn't like the idea of this great band dissolving. Your reputation was pretty bad in the 705. Well, you know what they say about the 70s: if you remember them, you weren't there. Actually I remember them quite well, because I was always trying to get myself right. I went to rehab 22 times. Hnally, just as I was about to give up, I got a little spirituality. Now I'm interested in this Buddhism thing. I kept flying, at least. and I guess that's what kept the band from firing me. I always showed up and I always did the best I could. And I never really, really embarassed the band.
How has life changed since you stopped drinking? It's totally turned around. I get out of bed like there's a spring under me. It's nearly 11 years now that I've been sober. I stopped smoking and snortin' at the same time I stopped drinking. I made the decision the night I got the award for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. I was so damn dnmk I could
barely stand up. Sobriety has changed
ei The Allman Brothers your voice too.
Absolutely. You can
have never danced for listen back to a night
when you were drunk, like you've got three tongues; you slur everything, there's no enunciation.
What do you think of the state of southern rock these days?
There's a lot of new guys out there that I like pretty well. But let me tell you about southern rock. There are four kings of rock'n'roll, two black and two white. Jerry Lee Lewis, from Ferriday, Louisiana, Little Richard, from Macon, Georgia. Elvis Presley, from Tupelo. Mississippi. And Chuck Berry, from St. Louis, Missouri. Three out of four of those are southern states. So to me, saying 'southern rock' is like saying 'rock'. Rock was born in the south, and we're really proud of it.