Gregg Allman's Memoir

Alan Bryson By

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Three weeks later, the band was booked for a made-for-TV event at the Fillmore East in New York City. We finally get the back story of the September 23, 1970 film footage. It would have been the original Allman Brothers Band's first (and only) significant television exposure, but the television crew screwed up the sound input for half of the band's performance. Gregg relates that Duane was "fucking flaming" with rage at the missed opportunity.

This was particularly insightful for me, because I happened to see them exactly one week earlier in Florida. It was essentially the same show, but as paradoxical as it might sound, they were considerably looser and their playing was correspondingly tighter—learning that this was their television debut gave me the explanation I had wondered about since seeing the Fillmore video footage.

Like Eric Clapton, Allman acknowledges the ravages of drug and alcohol abuse, and admits mistakes, but in contrast to Clapton, there seems to be a tendency to employ sweeping excuses and generalizations to avoid taking responsibility. In this regard, Clapton's extensive self examination shows a genuine effort to understand the origins of his addictive personality, and an acceptance of responsibility for its effect on others. On the other hand, Clapton's memoir left me yearning to discover more about the music, and here Gregg Allman excels.

It's been over 40 years since Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident at the age of 24. I'm glad I read this book before I saw Gregg Allman's interview, in which he talks about his engagement to a 24 year-old woman, 40 years his junior—that bit of irony might have kept me from buying the book, and despite this Hefneresque turn of events, I thoroughly enjoyed My Cross To Bear.


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