Aretha Franklin R.I.P | August 16, 2018

 Cologne Recording (1968) Aretha Franklin in rehearsals at a Cologne studio for a European TV show.   DPA/MEDIAPUNCH

Cologne Recording (1968)
Aretha Franklin in rehearsals at a Cologne studio for a European TV show. 


Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, Dies at 76

Chris Morris, Music Reporter

“Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin, the eruptive singer who reigned atop the pop and R&B charts in the late ’60s and early ’70s with a succession of albums and singles of unparalleled power and emotional depth, has died. She was 76.

Franklin was suffering from pancreatic cancer, and had earlier undergone surgery in December 2010. Her longtime publicist Gwendolyn Quinn reported Franklin died Thursday morning at her home in Detroit.

“In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart,” Quinn said in a statement. “We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.”

She was the most lionized and lauded female R&B vocalist of her era. Winner of 18 Grammy Awards, and a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement honoree in 1994, she became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. She was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honors.

Bearing a prodigious talent born in the church, Franklin was still a child when she was tapped for stardom. She attracted awed attention in the gospel world before entering the pop sphere at the age of 18 under producer and label exec John Hammond’s wing at Columbia Records. The expressive, uncommonly forceful voice was there, but the hits were scarce.

It was at Atlantic Records that “Lady Soul” truly arrived. In 1967, Franklin’s profound debut single for the label, “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You),” a No. 10 pop hit, was succeeded by her scorching, career-defining No. 1 cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect.”

Those songs and succeeding hits melded a deep gospel feel with R&B instrumentation and worldly themes, elaborating on the groundbreaking work of pioneering soul men Ray Charles, James Brown and Franklin’s friend and idol Sam Cooke, who had similarly crossed over from sacred music to secular stardom.

Franklin’s 12-year stint at Atlantic yielded a dozen top-10 pop singles — the biggest hits of her half-century career, which encompassed 80 pop chart singles — and 20 No. 1 R&B singles. They established her as the nonpareil female soul singer of her generation, often imitated but never equaled.

As “The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll” put it succinctly, “From 1967 to 1970 she was the preeminent black musician in pop music.” Already a legend, she moved to Arista Records for a run of lesser hits from 1980-2003. Her last chart single, “Put You Up on Game” (a duet with “American Idol” champ Fantasia), was released in 2007.

 Grammys (1972) Aretha Franklin holds her Grammy Award trophy for Best Rhythm and Blues performance of the song “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.”   AP PHOTO/DAVE PICKOFF

Grammys (1972)
Aretha Franklin holds her Grammy Award trophy for Best Rhythm and Blues performance of the song “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.” 


Born in Memphis, Franklin was the third of four children; her sisters Erma (who originated Janis Joplin’s signature hit “Piece of My Heart”) and Carolyn (who often backed and sometimes wrote for her sibling) would also enjoy R&B careers. She was the daughter of C.L. Franklin, who served as pastor of a prominent Detroit ministry, the New Bethel Baptist Church, from the late ’40s.

As a youngster, Aretha accompanied her father on his evangelical tours, and came to gospel singing through such family friends as Clara Ward (with whom her father had a long-term romantic relationship), Mahalia Jackson and Marion Williams. These gospel elders became important maternal figures for Franklin after her parents split when she was 6 years old, and early musical role models as well.

A primarily self-taught and gifted pianist, Franklin was already a well-traveled veteran of the gospel road at 14 when she issued her first album, “Songs of Faith,” on Chess Records’ JVB subsidiary, which also released her father’s sermons on LPs.

As a vulnerable teen, she was preyed upon by men, some much older, resulting in two pregnancies, the first at age 12 and again at age 15. As David Remnick noted in a 2016 New Yorker profile, Franklin “saw a great deal of life, including the libertine atmosphere surrounding the gospel-music scene. By the time she recorded [her] first songs, she was pregnant with her second child. She left school and went on the road for, more or less, the rest of her life.”

Seeing possibilities for Franklin as a commercial pop artist, Cooke urged her to sign with RCA Records, which released his post-gospel R&B hits. However, in 1960 she inked a deal with Columbia. Hammond — who had discovered Billie Holiday and Count Basie — primarily envisioned her as a jazz-styled vocalist.

Franklin’s five years at Columbia were frustrating ones, marked by unfocused production work and repertoire unsuited to her gospel-based style. She recorded her 1961 debut album with jazz pianist Ray Bryant’s combo. Her first top-40 single — her only one for the label — was a version of Al Jolson’s 1918 hit “Rock-a-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody.” She essayed soupy ballads and Tin Pan Alley antiquities, and covered songs by Holiday, Dinah Washington and Dionne Warwick. Nothing clicked.

In late 1966, Franklin was signed to Atlantic by Jerry Wexler, producer of many of the label’s R&B smashes, who divined her potential as a straight-up soul singer. In the late exec’s words, “I took her to church, sat her down at the piano and let her be herself.”

 Academy Awards (1975) Aretha Franklin performs “Wherever Love Takes Me” from “Gold” during the 47th Academy Awards.  AP PHOTO/REED SAXON

Academy Awards (1975)
Aretha Franklin performs “Wherever Love Takes Me” from “Gold” during the 47th Academy Awards.


An abortive session at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala., produced the breakthrough single “I Never Loved a Man.” A subsequent New York date with saxophonist King Curtis resulted in “Respect.” Both topped the national R&B charts and broke through on the pop side; the latter number garnered Franklin her first two Grammys. Her fame was almost instantly assured: In June 1968, she appeared on the cover of Time magazine, a rare feat for a pop music performer of any race or gender.

One incandescent hit followed another through the early ’70s: “Baby I Love You” (No. 4 pop), “Chain of Fools” (No. 2), “Since You’ve Been Gone” (No. 4), “Think” (No. 7), “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (No. 6), “Spanish Harlem” (No. 2), “Day Dreaming” (No. 5), “Until You Come Back to Me” (No. 3). All of them made the apex of the R&B chart.

These were accompanied by a string of top-five albums produced by Wexler and Arif Mardin: “I Never Loved a Man” (1967), “Aretha Arrives” (1967), “Lady Soul” (1968), “Aretha Now” (1968). Though less popular, “Spirit in the Dark” (1970) and “Young Gifted and Black” (1972), on which Franklin took a growing hand in the writing, were uncommonly ambitious, probing works.

A pair of concert LPs that both reached No. 7 nationally reflected two sides of Franklin’s musical personality in white-hot form. “Aretha Live at Fillmore West” (1971) was a puissant soul recital cut at the titular San Francisco venue with King Curtis’ band. “Amazing Grace” (1972) was a two-LP set recorded in a Los Angeles church with a choir led by Rev. James Cleveland that potently revealed the singer’s gospel roots anew. (A feature documentary film of the latter performance, shot by the late director Sydney Pollack, remains unreleased.)

Her highest-charting latter-day Atlantic album was “Sparkle” (No. 18, 1976), a film soundtrack set that paired her with Curtis Mayfield, then still riding high in the aftermath of another movie-driven hit, “Superfly.” Written and produced by Mayfield, “Sparkle” spawned the No. 1 R&B hit “Something He Can Feel.” She collaborated again with Mayfield on the less successful “Almighty Fire” (1979). Franklin ended her Atlantic epoch with the flop disco album “La Diva” in 1979.

 ‘The Blues Brothers’ (1980) Franklin co-starred with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in the 1980 classic film “The Blues Brothers.”   UNIVERSAL/KOBAL/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

‘The Blues Brothers’ (1980)
Franklin co-starred with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in the 1980 classic film “The Blues Brothers.” 


In 1980, Franklin reprised “Think” in the Dan Aykroyd-John Belushi musical comedy vehicle “The Blues Brothers,” in which Ray Charles and James Brown also took on-screen roles.” That year, she signed a contract with Clive Davis’ Arista, where she would spend the next 23 years.

Though she dutifully attempted to adapt to latter-day R&B styles, Franklin scored just a handful of pop hits at Arista: the Narada Michael Walden-produced “Freeway of Love” (No. 3, 1985), “Who’s Zoomin’ Who” (No. 7, 1985) and the George Michael duet “I Know You Were Waiting (For Me),” which became her final No. 1 pop single in 1987.

“Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves,” a memorable duet with Eurythmics’ Annie Lennox, reached the top 20 in ’85. Some will fondly recall her 1986 remake of the Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” cut for a Whoopi Goldberg picture with Keith Richards producing and playing guitar.

The mid ’80s were marked by personal unhappiness and tragedy. Franklin’s second marriage, to actor Glynn Turman, dissolved in 1984. (She had divorced first husband Ted White, who also served as her manager, in 1969 after marrying him at 19.) The same year, her father died: C.L. Franklin had spent five years in a coma after being shot during a robbery in Detroit.

Years of indifferent releases on Arista culminated with the ironically titled label swan song “So Damn Happy” in 2003. The seasonal “This Christmas, Aretha” was issued through the Borders chain in 2008.

Despite an ongoing struggle with her weight and an intense fear of flying, Franklin continued to perform live. In January 2009, she sang at President Obama’s inaugural ceremony. Her health crisis in late 2010 forced her to cancel six months of concert dates.

After recovering from surgery for cancer, Franklin resumed touring (intermittently, and some times discontinuously due to illness) and issued records again, on her own Aretha’s imprint. “Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love” (2011) compiled tracks cut during sessions in 2006, and made little impression on the charts.

However, 2014’s “Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics” became the singer’s most popular album in nearly 30 years. The collection, which offered her interpretations of earlier hits by Etta James, Barbra Streisand, Alicia Keys, Dinah Washington and others, matched the peaks of her 1985 “Who’s Zoomin’ Who” long player, topping out at No. 13 pop and No. 3 R&B.

She last performed in November at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Gala in New York. At that performance — where John introduced her as “the greatest singer of all time” — Franklin appeared very slim but in fine voice as she delivered a nine-song set including “Say a Little Prayer,” “I Knew You Were Waiting” and “Freeway.” She was also honored at the Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Gala in New York in January. Franklin did not perform, but Jennifer Hudson — who had been personally selected by the singer to play her in a forthcoming biopic — performed several of her hits.

In 2017 the singer said she’d planned to retire from touring in the coming months, and announced that she was working with longtime friends and collaborators Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie and Elton John on a new album.

She is survived by four sons: Clarence and Edward Franklin, Ted White Jr. (a regular member of her touring band) and Kecalf Cunningham.


Candler Park Music & Food Festival 2017 | Candler Park: Atlanta, GA

Production / Stage Manager
Production Support for Rival Entertainment

Featuring Artists: Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Railroad Earth, Lake Street Dive, The Motet, Matisyahu, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, The Marcus King Band, Ripe, Chelsea Shag, Webster


Chris Cornell R.I.P | May 18, 2017

Chris Cornell, Soundgarden Frontman, Dies at Age 52

By Jem Aswad, Shirley Halperin

UPDATED: Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell died by suicide late Wednesday, Variety has confirmed. He died in Detroit after performing with his longtime band Soundgarden on May 17.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s office issued a statement Thursday confirming the cause of death:

Chris Cornell sat down for an in-depth interview and acoustic performance in the SiriusXM Studios for an Artist Confidential where he performed a cover of Prince's Nothing Compares 2 U. Check Out Chris Cornell's latest single "Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart": Lithium is the destination for grunge rock and '90s alternative.

“The Medical Examiner has completed the autopsy on 52-year-old Chris Cornell, the Soundgarden musician who died last night in Detroit. The cause of death has been determined as suicide by hanging. A full autopsy report has not yet been completed. There is no additional information at this time.”

Michael Woody, director of media relations for the Detroit Police, told Variety Cornell’s wife asked a friend to check on the singer, the friend forced opened the door and found Cornell on the bathroom floor. Cornell was pronounced dead at the scene. He was 52.

A rep for the singer issued the following statement in the early hours of May 18: “Chris Cornell passed away late Wednesday night in Detroit, MI. His wife Vicky and family were shocked to learn of his sudden and unexpected passing, and they will be working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause. They would like to thank his fans for their continuous love and loyalty and ask that their privacy be respected at this time.”

Cornell sent a tweet just hours before his final show, posting a photo of the Fox Theater and a caption complete with a reference to Kiss, a band that influenced him deeply as a teen: “#Detroit finally back to Rock City!!!! @soundgarden #nomorebulls—.”

Cornell, a key figure in the Seattle grunge scene with a powerful four-octave voice, founded Soundgarden in 1984 with guitarist Kim Thayil, drummer Matt Cameron and bassist Hiro Yamamoto. Along with Green River — which ultimately split into two bands, Pearl Jam and Mudhoney — Soundgarden were the vanguards of the movement of long-haired, hard-rocking bands that emerged from the city in the mid-to-late 1980s. Their debut single, “Hunted Down,” was the first release on the soon-to-be deeply influential Sub Pop record label in the summer of 1987, and it was followed by the “Screaming Life” EP in November. The band’s sound, a then-unusual fusion of garagey indie rock with a slightly sarcastic take on the stadium-rock (Aerosmith, Kiss) that its members grew up on, found an audience as the band toured extensively. Yet Soundgarden’s members were wary of the optics of signing with a major label too quickly — even though they were already deep in negotiations with majors — and instead chose to release their debut full-length, 1988’s “Ultramega OK”; ironically, the band had already signed A&M at the time of the album’s release. The following year saw the band’s push for the big time: Its major label debut, “Louder Than Love,” arrived in the fall of 1989, and driven by songs like “Loud Love” and “Big Dumb Sex” (with its profane chorus), the band began finding an audience outside the indie scene that had nurtured it. They toured hard into the next year — notably with fellow rising rockers Faith No More — before woodshedding their next album.

Several key events took place in 1990 and ’91 that profoundly shaped the band’s career. First, in April 1990, Mother Love Bone singer Andrew Wood — a close friend and former roommate of Cornell’s — died of a heroin overdose just weeks before the band released its promising debut album. As a way of grieving, Cornell united with Cameron, Mother Love Bone members Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard (both of whom had been in Green River) and a promising young singer named Eddie Vedder whom Ament and Gossard were considering for their next band. The resulting album, “Temple of the Dog,” was released rather quietly on A&M in mid-1991, but took on a whole new dimension when Pearl Jam — the band Ament, Gossard and Vedder went on to form — Nirvana, and the entire Seattle scene vaulted into the mainstream the following year.

Next, Soundgarden released “Badmotorfinger,” which showed vast maturity in both the band’s performance and, via songs like “Rusty Cage” and “Outshined,” its Cornell-driven songwriting; the album was nominated for a Grammy Awards (albeit for Best Heavy Metal Performance) the following year. And in 1992, just as the grunge wave was cresting, came the Cameron Crowe-directed film “Singles,” a celebration of Seattle’s scene and sound, which starred Matt Dillon and Bridget Fonda and featured many characters from the area’s rock world. Soundgarden performs in the film and appears on the soundtrack, yet perhaps its most memorable moment in the film comes when Dillon and Cornell briefly groove together to music; Cornell’s presence actually outshines that of the far more famous actor. The film’s soundtrack, which was certified platinum at the time by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), just last week received a deluxe reissue featuring several rare and previously unreleased tracks, including Cornell’s rare solo “Poncier” EP. The group was a highlight on the second Lollapalooza tour in 1992, which also featured Pearl Jam.

The scene was set for Soundgarden to rise to superstardom, and they did not miss their moment. “Superunknown,” which was released in March 1994, debuted atop the Billboard 200 album chart and featured a string of radio smashes from the album, including “Spoonman” and “Black Hole Sun,” both of which won Grammy Awards in 1995. “Superunknown” would eventually sell more than 5 million copies, according to the RIAA. The band returned with 1996’s “Down On the Upside,” but tensions between Cornell and Kim Thayil, along with the decline of the Seattle sound and the overall burnout of 12 years together, led to their split in 1997. The band would not play together again until 2010.

In 1999, Cornell ventured out on his own and with the album “Euphoria Morning,” which showed a more introspective and softer side to his songwriting. While critically well-received, the album was not a commercial success, and by 2001 Cornell reverted to his rocker muse and formed the band Audioslave with the members of Rage Against the Machine, who had recently parted ways with singer Zack De La Rocha. The band’s self-titled debut was released in 2002 and yielded another hit, “Cochise.” Audioslave’s “Like a Stone” was also nominated for a Grammy. The band would go on to release two more albums, before calling it quits in 2007.

Cornell’s solo career would kick into high-gear in 2006 with the song “You Know My Name,” written for the James Bond film “Casino Royale.” He would receive a Golden Globe Award for the track.

The following  year, Cornell released a solo album, “Carry On,” which was produced by Steve Lillywhite. It was released to mixed reviews. Cornell followed with his most pop effort to date, 2009’s “Scream,” which saw him collaborating with R&B producer Timbaland and Onerepubic frontman Ryan Tedder; Justin Timberlake even appeared on a song. While the album was his highest charting solo release — debuting at No. 10 on the Billboard 200 — Cornell was lambasted critically and by peers including Trent Reznor, who called the album “embarassing.” Around that time Cornell covered the Michael Jackson song “Billie Jean” in an acoustic rendition that gained unexpected currency when Jackson died in June of 2009.

In 2010, Cornell began hinting at a Soundgarden reunion, which would eventually take place at Lollapalooza in April of that year. Over the past few years he generally alternated between solo work, releasing the albums”Songbook” (2011), and “Higher Truth” (2015), Soundgarden (which released its first new album in 16 years, “King Animal,” in 2012, and did a tour around the 20th anniversary of “Superunknown” in 2014) and a Temple of the Dog reunion. In 2014, that group emerged from hibernation when Cornell joined Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder at Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit to perform “Hunger Strike,” and the band did a rapturously received reunion tour in 2016, marking the 25th anniversary of Temple of the Dog’s debut album.

With Soundgarden, Cornell won two Grammy Awards from 14 nominations, and a 1994 MTV Video Music Award for “Black Hole Sun.”

According to Nielsen Music, across his entire catalog (Soundgarden, Audioslave and solo) he sold 14,865,000 albums, 8,808,000 digital songs and had 300,091,000 on-demand audio streams.

The top sellers were Soundgarden’s “Superunknown” (3,859,000), “Badmotorfinger” (1,615,000) and 1996’s “Down on the Upside” (1,606,000); the band’s top songs were “Black Hole Sun” (1,044,000 sold, 45.4 million streams), “Spoonman” (431,000 sold, nearly 15 million streams) and “Fell on Black Days (420,000 sold, 13.7 million streams).

Audioslave sold 3.5 million copies of its self-titled debut and 1.2 million of its “Out of Exile” follow-up; its top song was “Like a Stone” (908,000 sold, 31.8 million streams). Cornell’s solo albums “Out of Exile” sold 1.2 million, while his debut “Euphoria Morning” moved 393,000 units. His top songs were “You Know My Name” (323,000 sold, 3.5 million streams), “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart” (“5.5 million streams) and his cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” (125,000 sold).

Cornell had struggled with substance abuse throughout much of his life, including a bout with Oxycontin for which in 2009 he admitted had sent him into rehab. He had been sober since 2002.

He is survived by his wife, Vicky Karayiannis, and three children: Lillian, Toni, and Christopher.


Gregg Allman R.I.P | May 27, 2017

 Gregg Allman, a singer, musician and songwriter who played an essential role in the invention of Southern rock, has died at the age of 69. Photofest

Gregg Allman, a singer, musician and songwriter who played an essential role in the invention of Southern rock, has died at the age of 69. Photofest


Chris Morris, Music Reporter

Gregg Allman, whose hard-jamming, bluesy sextet the Allman Brothers Band was the pioneering unit in the Southern rock explosion of the ‘70s, died Saturday due to complications from liver cancer, his longtime manager, Michael Lehman, confirmed to Variety. He was 69.

As recently as April 24, reports surfaced claiming Allman was in hospice, although Lehman denied those reports, which Allman then substantiated in a Facebook post. However, he had suffered a number of ailments in recent years — including an irregular heartbeat, a respiratory infection, a hernia and a liver transplant — and cancelled many scheduled tour dates in recent months for health reasons. Lehman said that Allman’s liver cancer recurred around five years ago, but the singer chose to keep the news private.

Allman completed a solo album, “Southern Blood,” that is set for release late this year. Lehman said they received some final mixes for the album on Friday, and Allman listened to them the night before his death. He added that Allman passed away with his family nearby, and was “at peace.”

For his work with the Allman Brothers, the legendary band he cofounded with his late brother Duane, and as a solo artist, Allman is one of the leading lights of Southern Rock. While the group’s greatest work was done before and shortly after Duane’s death in 1971, they stayed together, off and on, over 45 years and remain a singular influence on Southern rock and jam-band musicians. They were a top-drawing touring outfit until October 2014, when the group finally closed the book on their career with a series of dates at their longtime favorite venue, New York’s Beacon Theatre.

Music video by The Allman Brothers Band performing Midnight Rider (Live at Great Woods). (C) 2013 Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

Allman’s solo career always played second to that of the band, but he enjoyed solo success with 1973’s “Laid Back” and 1987’s “I’m No Angel,” both of which were certified gold. In 2011 he released an unexpectedly strong album entitled “Low Country Blues” that was produced by T Bone Burnett (Alison Krauss/Robert Plant, Los Lobos, Elvis Costello, “O Brother Where Art Thou?”), who, along with instrumentalists like pianist Dr. John and guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, brought Allman back to his gutsy roots with stellar results.

With his older sibling, guitarist Duane Allman, the singer-keyboardist-guitarist-songwriter led one of the most popular concert attractions of the rock ballroom era; the group’s 1971 set “At Fillmore East,” recorded at Bill Graham’s New York hall, was a commercial breakthrough that showed off the band’s prodigious songcraft and instrumental strengths.

After Duane Allman’s death in a motorcycle accident weeks after the live album’s release, his younger brother led the band through four more stormy decades of playing and recording. The Allman Brothers Band’s latter-day history proved tumultuous, with other fatalities, disbandings, regroupings and very public battles with drugs and alcohol on the part of its surviving namesake.

Though Gregg Allman’s highly publicized addictions, his tabloid-ready marriage to pop vocalist Cher, and his equally public disputes with co-founding guitarist Dickey Betts came under harsh and sometimes mocking scrutiny over the years, Allman prevailed as the linchpin of an act that maintained popularity over four decades and opened the commercial door for such other Southern acts as Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Marshall Tucker Band.

As a member of the Allman Brothers Band, Allman was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 and was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

He was born Gregory LeNoir Allman on Dec. 8, 1947, in Nashville; brother Duane was born 13 months earlier in the same hospital. In 1949, his father was shot to death by a man he offered a ride to in a bar. As their mother was studying accounting to support the family, the brothers were sent to a Tennessee military school at an early age.

The Allmans became attracted to music after seeing a 1960 concert by R&B singer Jackie Wilson in Daytona Beach, FL, where the family had moved the year before. Using money from a paper route (augmented by his mother), Gregg bought a guitar, and taught Duane his first chords. Both played guitar in the bands they founded after returning to the military academy in their teens.

 Allman Brothers circa 1970. GAB Photo/Getty

Allman Brothers circa 1970. GAB Photo/Getty

Their pro bands the Escorts and the Allman Joys, which favored R&B, blues and rock covers, found work on the Florida club circuit in the mid-‘60s; Gregg began playing keyboards in the latter unit. The Allman Joys were playing without success in St. Louis when Bill McEuen, manager of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, met them and offered to set them up in Los Angeles.

Renamed Hour Glass, the L.A.-based group cut two unsuccessful pop-oriented albums for Liberty Records in 1967-68. Duane chafed at the direction being forced on the combo and fled for Alabama, where he became a prominent session guitarist at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL. Gregg remained in L.A. to fulfill obligations to Liberty, but was summoned to Jacksonville, FL, in 1969 by his brother, who envisioned a new blues-based band with two guitarist and two drummers, featuring members of another local combo, the 31st of February.

Calling themselves the Allman Brothers Band, the new unit – the Allmans, guitarist Betts, bassist Berry Oakley and drummers Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson – was signed by Otis Redding’s former manager Phil Walden for management and as an act on his Macon, GA-based label Capricorn Records. The group moved to Macon, which became its base for the duration.

Neither of the ABB’s first two albums was an enormous success: Its self-titled bow peaked at No. 188 in 1969, while sophomore set “Idlewild South” topped out at No. 38 in 1970. But they established Gregg Allman as a vocal, instrumental and songwriting power: His compositions included such future staples of the band’s live set as “Not My Cross to Bear,” “Dreams,” “Whipping Post” and “Midnight Rider.”

Though problems with hard drug abuse were already surfacing in the band, the Allmans became a huge concert attraction in the South; the enthusiastic sponsorship of promoter Graham led to high-profile gigs at New York’s Filllmore East (where the band attained a rabid following) and San Francisco’s Fillmore.

The Allmans made their commercial mark with “At Fillmore East”: The expansive, Tom Dowd-produced two-record set, recorded during two nights at the venue, shot to No.13 ultimately sold more than 1 million copies and became one of the defining concert recordings of its day. However, Duane Allman’s tragic death at 24 on a Macon street on Oct. 29, 1971, cast a shadow over its success.

The band completed a follow-up two-LP set, “Eat a Peach,” as a quintet, with live numbers featuring Duane filling out the contents. The 1972 package rose to No. 4 nationally and went platinum, but disaster again struck: In a mishap eerily similar to Duane Allman’s fatal crash, hard-drinking bassist Oakley died after driving his bike into the side of a truck that November.

Shaken by the deaths of his brother and Oakley and increasingly incapacitated by heroin, cocaine and alcohol, Gregg Allman ceded much of the band’s songwriting and front man duties to Betts; as he noted in “My Cross to Bear,” his 2012 memoir, “Up until then, we’d never really had a front man; Dickey took it upon himself to create that role.”

The ABB released its only No. 1 album, “Brothers and Sisters,” in 1973; the record was powered to the top by the Betts-penned No. 2 single “Ramblin’ Man,” the group’s only top-10 45.

Allman retreated from the group to cut his solo debut “Laid Back” in 1973; rising to No. 13, it would be his most popular work away from the band for nearly 40 years, and it spawned his only top-20 solo single, a down-tempo remake of “Midnight Rider.”

On the heels of the lugubrious but popular “Win, Lose or Draw” (No. 5, 1975), the group set out on its biggest, and costliest, tour to date. The ABB flew to its dates on a lavishly appointed private jet previously used by the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin; in his book, Allman recalls, “The first time we walked onto the plane, ‘Welcome Allman Brothers’ was spelled out in cocaine on the bar.”

The ABB returned from the 41-date tour with a mere $100,000 in hand, owing to over-the-top spending. This financial catastrophe was compounded by the indictment of the group’s security man (and Allman’s drug bag man) Scooter Herring on cocaine distribution charges; Allman testified against Herring before a grand jury and at his trial, which netted a 75-year prison sentence.

Addicted to heroin and embroiled in inter-band conflict with Betts, Allman began spending more time in Los Angeles with Cher, whom he had wed in June 1975. The incongruous couple was followed avidly by gossip columnists. In the wake of an unsuccessful 1977 solo album, “Playin’ Up a Storm” (No. 42), Allman and Cher released their only duo album, “Two the Hard Way”; embarrassingly credited to “Allman and Woman,” the set failed to chart, and its accompanying tour witnessed scuffles between hostile camps of fans in the audiences. Allman and Cher divorced in 1978.

Membership in the ABB rotated repeatedly for the remainder of the group’s career, which saw ever-diminishing contributions from writer Allman. He authored just one song for the group’s final Capricorn album, “Enlightened Rogues” (No. 27, 1979); the financially unstable imprint crashed within a year of its release. Allman was also a minor contributor to a pair of slick, poorly received albums for Arista Records in 1980-81.

During the band’s protracted hiatus of the ‘80s, Allman issued a pair of solo sets; the more popular of the two, 1987’s “I’m No Angel” (No. 30, 1987), spawned the titular radio hit.

Encouraged by airplay on the burgeoning “classic rock” radio format, the ABB reconvened for a 1989 tour. In 1990, the group recorded “Seven Turns” (No. 53) with “Fillmore East” producer Tom Dowd; the group also began multi-night residencies at New York’s Beacon Theatre, which became an annual tradition. They issued four commercially unrewarding albums – two studio sets and two concert releases – between 1991 and 1995.

Following a drunken appearance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in New York in January 1995, onetime junkie Allman, after 11 stints in rehab, finally stopped drinking on his own, under the 24-hour watch of two nurses.

Following the exit of longtime guitarist Warren Haynes and bassist Allen Woody and the recruitment of Butch Trucks’ young nephew Derek Trucks on guitar, the ABB cut the live “Peakin’ at the Beacon” in 2000. Tension within the band had reached the breaking point, and, following a severely worded fax to Betts from the other members and subsequent legal arbitration, the Allman Brothers Band’s other founding guitarist made his exit.

The front line of Allman, Haynes and Derek Trucks and the group’s founding drummers were heard on the Allman Brothers Band’s studio collection “Hittin’ the Note” (No. 37, 2003) and the live “One Way Out” (No. 190, 2004). After 45 years in business, the band was formally dissolved after an October 2014 show at the Beacon.

Allman’s old habits caught up with him in the ‘00s. Diagnosed with hepatitis C – a disease common to intravenous drug users – in 2007, he learned that he was suffering from liver cancer in 2008. He underwent successful liver transplant surgery at the Mayo Clinic in 2010.

Before his surgery, Allman entered the studio to record his first solo album in 13 years. “Low Country Blues,” a striking and powerful recital of old blues songs, augmented by one Allman-Haynes original and produced by T Bone Burnett (Alison Krauss/Robert Plant, Los Lobos, Elvis Costello, “O Brother Where Art Thou?”), garnered the best reviews of his career, collected a Grammy Award nomination and became his highest-charting solo release, reaching No. 5 in early 2011.

However, health problems and catastrophe continued to dog him. He cut short a 2011 European tour because of respiratory issues, which ultimately mandated lung surgery. He faced a drug relapse spurred by painkillers, and did a stint in rehab. In 2014, a film based on his 2012 memoir, “Midnight Rider,” ceased production after a camera assistant on director Randall Miller’s feature was killed by a freight train on the first day of shooting.

Allman’s last concert took place on October 29, 2016 in Atlanta, a headlining set at his own Laid Back Festival.

Married and divorced six times, Allman is survived by three sons and two daughters, all by different mothers. Four of the children are professional musicians.

Allman will be buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, Georgia, next to Duane and former Allmans bassist Berry Oakley (who died a year after Duane), Lehman said. Their mother’s ashes, currently in Gregg’s home, will be buried there as well.


Atlanta Jazz Festival 2017 | Piedmont Park: Atlanta, GA

Production / Stage Manager
Production Support for Rival Entertainment

Featuring Artists: The Pedrito Martinez Group, Robert Glasper Experiment, The Allan Harris Band, Regina Carter: Simply Ella, Randy Weston’s African Rhythms Quintet, Reńe Marie and Experiment in Truth, Charles Lloyd Sky Trio, Moonchild, Nik West, Nicholas Payton Afro-Caribbean Mixtape, Macy Gray, Little Tybee, Harriet Tubman: The Band, Deva Mahal, Marquis Hill Blacktet, Tribute to Miles Davis with Lil John Roberts and the All Star Band featuring Russell Gunn and Mino Cinelu, Dwight Andrews, Joe Jennings & Howard Nicholson’s Life Force, Celebrating Sarah: Kathleen Bertrand & Friends Honor Sarah Vaughan, The Joe Gransden Big Band with Alexandra Jackson, The Ojeda Penn Experience with Jean Carne, Freddy Cole, Frank Houston, Kemba Cofield, Darren English, Cleveland P. Jones, Julie Dexter and Jacob Deaton Duo featuring Rasheeda Ali, Mamaniji Azanyah & Mastery, Russell Gunn & African Drums meets Kebbi Williams’ Wolf Pack, Mausiki Scales & Common Ground featuring Giwayen Mata, Rialto Jazz for Kids, Danii Roundtree, Brenda Nicole Moorer, Tivon Pennicott Quartet.


John Prine, Cheap Trick, Dr. John & the Nite Trippers, Shawn Colvin and more... 8th Annual 30A Songwriters Festival


Production Stage Management Services:

Supporting Big Gig Productions & Russel Carter Artist Management

2017 lineup

Cheap Trick, Dr. John , John Prine, Ed Roland & The Sweet Tea Project, Shawn Mullins, Jojo Hermann (Widespread Panic), Matthew Sweet, Kevin Kinney (Drivin N Cryin), Chris Stills, Shawn Colvin, Ken Johnson, Sean McConnell, Willis Alan Ramsey, Kyle Jacobs, Emerson Hart (Tonic), Jeffrey Steele, Gretchen Pleuss, Becky Warren, Griffin House, Michelle Malone, Heather Maloney, Sterling Fletcher, Jennifer Knapp, Brian Collins, Elise Davis, Kelsey Waters, Old Salt Union, Bonnie Bishop, Mike Whitty & The Children of the Dirt Jam, Charlie Mars, Bob Schneider, Gary Louris (Jayhawks), Jonathan Tyler, Sam Lewis, Steve Poltz, Dan Navarro, Nicole Witt, John Fullbright, AJ Ghent Band, Connor Garvey, Jeremy Lister, Across The Wide, Dan Bern, Hailey Whitters, Trea Landon, Robert Ellis, Gurufish, Amy LaVere, Pete Sallis, John Gorka, Sugarcane Jane, Ty Herndon, Chuck McDowell, Sarah Miles, Jeff Black, Grant Peeples, Robby Hecht, Korby Lenker, Jimmy Robbins, Jennifer Simpson, Cory Chisel, Laslow, Will Sexton, Tom Gray (The Brains), David Ryan Harris, Jemina & Selina, The Whiskey Gentry, Nikki Lane, Michael McDermott, Sainte Jane, Derek George, David Berkeley, Wildlife Specials, Jonny Fritz, Kevin Gordon, Jaren Johnston, Grayson Capps and Corky Hughes, Tommy Talton, Kent DuChaine, Tommy Womack, Me and Molly, Josh Kear, Max McCann, Cale Dodds, Sarah Lee Guthrie, Cartoon Jazz Band, David Hodges (Evanescence), Adron, Lilly Winwood, Radoslav Lorković, Farewell Angelina, Dave Franklin, Jonathan Mitchell, Webb Wilder, Wesley Cook, Lari White, Darrell Scott, Boukou Groove, The Tall Pines, Kyle LaMonica, Continuum, Towne, Hugh Mitchell, Jacob Powell, Logan Brill, Seth Walker, Hannah Dasher, Will Kimbrough, The Wide Open, Olivia Winter, Cooper Carter, Daphne Willis , Sarah Potenza, Brent Anderson, Jack Ingram, Ellis Paul, Parker Millsap, Kristin Diable, Drivin N Cryin, The Mulligan Brothers, Alex Guthrie, Kim Richey, Willie Sugarcapps, Michigan Rattlers, Ben Glover, Parker & Parker, Bridgette Tatum, The Mosleys, Billy Montana, Edie Carey, Granville Automatic, Secret Sisters, Chris Alvarado, Joe Leathers, Carly Jo Jackson, Peter Holsapple (the dBs), Wyatt Edmondson, Crystal Bowersox, Phil Madeira, The Good Graces, Abe Stoklasa, Chas Sandford, Davin McCoy, Deana Carter, Donnie Sundal, Ben Fields, Don Dixon & Marti Jones, Peter Case, The Honey Dewdrops, Josh Kerr, Tim McNary, Blake Guthrie, Callaghan, Reed Waddle, Brian White, Kristin Hersh, Frank Rogers, Caroline Spence, Eliot Bronson, Marc Harris & Jab Wilson, Boukou Groove, Alex Dezen (The Damnwells), Hannah Thomas, Peter Karp, Wages, Brigitte DeMeyer with Will Kimbrough, Levi Lowrey, Mary Bragg, Over The Rhine, Stephen Kellogg, Karyn Williams, Todd Snider, Cole Taylor 


Farewell Angelina at the 2016 30A Songwriters Fest Kick Off Party at Pandora's in Grayton Beach.