This is SO good, I want you to immediately stop reading this and go on Amazon and buy it.
Not because it’s the Allman Brothers, but because it’ll give you insight into what it was like, fifty years ago, being a musician, wanting to make it.
Gregg picked up the guitar first.
But it was all about Duane. Duane believed they could make it.
On the way up there are so many bad turns, so many discouragements, you need someone on your team who believes, who keeps you going when you’re ready to give up. And that’s Duane.
You also need the unsung heroes… The music store owners, the girlfriends, the fans of the band…who not only put you up at night, but buy you instruments, lend you money when you’ve got none.
So it’s the racist south. The one kids today have never heard of, never mind remember. When you not only didn’t want to be black, you didn’t want to have long hair. Roads were dirt and the cops were on the wrong side. Not yours.
And growing up most people had no ambition. Gregg missed out on graduation and prom for gigs but remarks when he went to his high school reunion no one amounted to shit. It takes determination and guts to make it.
Boy did they practice.
And gig. Multiple times a night.
And they’d practice and gig on the same day.
The first thing a kid wants to do today is be famous. He believes he’s entitled to it. His parents gave him that instrument, he filmed himself on YouTube, why isn’t everybody clamoring!
So he’ll e-mail you, implore you to help him achieve his dream… Which is to appear on TMZ. It’s no longer about riches, they’re better in banking and tech, it’s about fame and lifestyle.
But the lifestyle these musicians had back then was better than any one on TMZ. Because they got high and got laid when nobody was paying attention. There were no cameras busting them, it was a freewheeling world.
Gregg talks about being inspired to write "Melissa", hearing the name of the song from a grandmother calling her kid in the supermarket.
He talks about writing "Dreams" after being given tips by Mike Finnegan on his B3.
He talks about learning to write songs from a summer of apprenticing under John Loudermilk.
Buying all the records, learning all the licks, the Allman Brothers were on a mission. Of survival. Because there was no backup plan. No safety net. No college if this didn’t work out.
And people dropped out all the time. To go to school, because of stage fright, because they just didn’t believe.
But not Duane and Gregg.
Duane tortured Gregg. But he also inspired him. And vice versa.
I know, I know, this sounds like nostalgia, for the seventies, listening to those long, dreamy, extended cuts.
And I love the Allmans, but that’s not what I like about this book.
I like it first and foremost because it’s readable. It cuts like butter. It’s written in Gregg’s voice. You get the impression there’s somebody home, and it’s not the drug-addled laughingstock he’s occasionally played.
And I like it because it portrays a family, not just an endless string of events. Life is like Jenga, you keep pulling out parts, waiting for it all to fall. But, can you pick yourself up after it crumbles?
And I like it because it doesn’t start with the Beatles. That’s not why the Allmans became musicians. First and foremost they loved music. All the old R&B and blues tunes, played on the radio. They were students of the music. They worked harder at their craft than a guy who goes to law school. Because they needed it, they were excited by it, they wanted to get closer to it.
And it’s so different from today.
And we’re never going to go back to yesteryear. Not with modern connectedness.
But when you’re slaving away in obscurity, remember that despite being able to connect with everybody, nobody really cares. Used to be everybody knew this. Which is why they practiced so hard, paid their dues, just hoping for a shot at the big time.
Today people believe they’re born ready.
Ain’t that a laugh.
Gregg had to learn how to sing. He just didn’t open his throat and sound good.
Today everything’s easy. At least that’s what the media tells us.
But it’s really damn hard.
Some people need to make it.
Those are the ones who do.