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Gregg Allman, Star of Southern Rock, Dies at Age 69

  • VOA News

FILE - Gregg Allman performs at the Americana Music Association awards show in Nashville, Tenn., Oct. 13, 2011. Allman died May 27, 2017, at age 69.

Southern rock legend Gregg Allman has died in Savannah, Georgia, at age 69, according to his family.

Allman, whose keyboard playing and vocals became representative of an entire genre of blues-tinged rock music, had been in poor health. He announced in March 2017 that he was canceling all performances for the rest of the year.

The family said in a statement that Allman "passed away peacefully" in his home near the southeastern U.S. coast Saturday.

The Nashville-born musician, known for his long, blond hair, originally began playing music with his brother, Duane, when the two were teenagers. Legend has it that the two boys, close in age, initially shared a guitar bought at Sears.

After years of playing together in various groups, the self-titled Allman Brothers Band had just begun to achieve mainstream success in 1971 when Duane was killed in a motorcycle accident at age 24.

Gregg Allman carried on with the Allman Brothers Band for decades afterward, releasing such famous Southern rock tunes as "Whipping Post," "Ramblin' Man" and "Midnight Rider," and influencing untold numbers of Southern songwriters who followed.

In 1995, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It won a Grammy for the instrumental "Jessica" the following year.

Allman abused drugs and alcohol until the mid-1990s. While he spent the final two decades of his life sober, his health was affected by the excess of his earlier years. He underwent a liver transplant in 2010.

Music was essential

Throughout his recovery and later health problems, Allman maintained that playing music was essential to his survival. The year after his liver transplant, he released a solo album called "Low Country Blues."

During his five-decade career Allman worked with many of the greats of American blues and rock 'n' roll, including Wilson Pickett, Neil Young, Clarence Carter, Eric Clapton and T-Bone Burnett. The band established a tradition of playing a multinight residency at New York City's Beacon Theater once a year for most of two decades. Their final residency at the Beacon ended in October 2014.

He was married several times, including one famous but brief pairing with pop superstar Cher. He had five children.

Allman was the most famous face of a band that saw more than its share of tragedy.

In addition to the death of brother Duane, the Allman Brothers Band lost its bassist, Berry Oakley, to a motorcycle accident in 1972. In January of this year, another founding member of the band, Butch Trucks, committed suicide. Like Allman, he was 69.

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