Gregory Lenoir Allman (born December 8, 1947 in Nashville, Tennessee), known as Gregg Allman (sometimes spelled Greg Allman), is a rock and blues singer, keyboardist, guitarist and songwriter, best known as a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band. He was inducted with the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, and personally received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2006. His distinctive Southern-accented voice placed him in 70th place in Rolling Stone Magazines list of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time".
Raised in Daytona Beach, Florida, attended Seabreeze High School along with his older brother Duane, Gregg took an interest in the guitar before Duane did. But while Duane would soon become the superior guitarist, Gregg focused more on vocals, while advancing to keyboards. Little Milton was one of his favorite singers.
Allman Joys and Hour Glass
In the mid- to late-1960s, the Allmans played in a series of bands including The Escorts and Allman Joys, mostly playing around the Southeastern United States. Toward the end of the decade, The Allman Joys relocated to Los Angeles, California, and were signed to Liberty Records, which renamed them The Hour Glass. Strongly controlled by the label, the group produced a pair of psychedelic blues albums. All the players were deeply dissatisfied with the results; Duane Allman in particular spoke bitterly of the Hour Glass' output. The label, impressed with Gregg Allman's vocal abilities and abilities as a keyboardist, placed him on at least an equal level as his elder brother, which in turn began to be problematic for the brothers' relationship.
Formation of The Allman Brothers Band
Main article: The Allman Brothers Band
After its second album, The Hour Glass broke up and Duane Allman returned to the South, playing sessions at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. In a short time, he assembled the group that would become The Allman Brothers Band - Duane and Dickey Betts on guitars, Berry Oakley on bass guitar, and Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson on drums. Liberty Records still believed that Gregg Allman had more potential as a solo act, and allowed the rest of The Hour Glass to leave on condition that Allman stay in California to record for them. He quickly grew miserable with this arrangement, and when Duane called from Jacksonville, Florida in March 1969 to say that he had assembled a band that needed a singer, Gregg jumped at the opportunity. He had long wanted to play the Hammond Organ, and was given one immediately upon joining the band, which he had to learn to play in a hurry. He has played the Hammond B-3 and handled much of the lead vocal and songwriting duties for the band (when it has been together), along with occasional piano and guitar contributions, ever since.
After the untimely death of Duane Allman, by the mid-1970s, Gregg Allman carved out a solo career. His first album, Laid Back, was released in 1973 to a positive critical reception.
It included a couple of reworked Allman Brothers songs, such as a horn-laden, swampy version of "Midnight Rider" (one of the band's most famous songs) that made it to #19 on the Billboard singles chart, and originals like "Queen of Hearts", which Allman and the band felt did not quite fit the Allman Brothers sound. There are also a few cover songs on the record, such as the traditional gospel number "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" and an acclaimed take on former California roommate Jackson Browne's song "These Days."
Allman in 2006 Photo: Andrea Klein
Allman's solo career has continued intermittently throughout the subsequent decades, sometimes touring when the Allman Brothers Band is off the road. Generally, these solo efforts - first with the Gregg Allman Band, and later with Gregg Allman & Friends - eschew lengthy guitar solos and cast Allman more in the mode of his favorite soul singers. The bands often include a horn section and are more groove-oriented. The template of mixing originals with reworked Allman Brothers songs and covers of blues, R&B, and soul songs remains in place.
Allman's biggest hit single came in 1987 with "I'm No Angel", from the album of the same name. The album went on to be certified Gold for 500,000 copies sold and led to a renewed interest in Allman and to a reformation of the Allman Brothers Band less than three years later.
Allman has also made guest appearances on albums and concert videos by a wide variety of other artists, including a concert DVD celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of The Radiators, playing Midnight Rider with that band.
As an actor, Allman had roles in the films Rush Week (1989) and Rush (1991), as well as in a couple of episodes of the TV series Superboy. He also had a brief speaking cameo in the Family Guy episode "Let's Go to the Hop".
When Allman was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame on , 2006, he was introduced by Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue and performed "Oncoming Traffic", "Melissa", and "Georgia on My Mind" solo and then ended with "Midnight Rider", backed by fellow inductees Bill Berry, Peter Buck, and Mike Mills from R.E.M. at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.
Gregg struggled with drugs both legal and illegal, primarily cocaine, heroin, and alcohol, from the 1970s onward. He was sober as of the mid-1990s.
He continues to tour every year with The Allman Brothers Band, which in 2003 released, Hittin' the Note, its first studio album in nearly a decade.
Marriages, relationships & children
Gregg Allman, May 24, 2005
Photo: Carl Lender
Allman has been married at least six times and has several children, and two grandchildren.
His first marriage was to Shelley Kay Winters (later Jefts), who gave birth to a son Devon Allman on August 10, 1972. Devon is also a musician, and leads the band Honeytribe, and has appeared with the Allman Brothers Band on a few occasions.
At time of first solo album, Laid Back, Allman was married to Jan Blair (1973-1975) sister of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' bassist, Ron Blair.
Allman's most famous marriage was to the singer/actress Cher from 1975 to 1979. Together they became the parents of a son, Elijah Blue Allman, who later formed his own band, Deadsy. The couple even tried a musical collaboration, releasing their record album Two the Hard Way (billed as Allman and Woman) in 1977. It was universally panned, and it has long since been out of print. The Hard Way Tour was staged with Cher making appearances, and it did not meet with much success either.
He was married to Julie Bindas (parents Julian and Lotte Bindas) from 1979 to 1981; they had a daughter, Delilah Island Allman, November 5, 1980. During this time, they spent most of their time on the west coast of Florida.
Gregg had a relationship with Shannon Wilsey (who was later to be known as porn actress Savannah) who was just 16 years old at the time, between 1986, and 1988. This relationship ended when she became pregnant. The pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.
He married Stacey Fountain in 2001.
Allman's son Michael now lives in the Atlanta area, and is son of Mary Lynn Sutton (now Austin) from Conyers, Georgia.
Gregg's daughter Layla Brooklyn is 16 and lives in the San Francisco Bay area. She fronts the band Picture Me Broken as a vocalist and synth player.
Allman's son Michael has 2 sons (Brandon Michael and Christopher Lenoir), making Gregg a grandfather.
Gregg currently lives in Richmond Hill, Georgia.
Blind Willie McTell - legendary Atlanta 12-string guitarist, composer of Statesboro Blues also influenced Bob Dylan, Taj Majal, and Jack White.