Remembering Gregg Allman



Story by Tim Raab
Photograph by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Hearing of Gregg Allman’s death this past weekend, I could not help but reminisce about the first time I saw the Allman Brothers Band live.

I believe it was May 15, 1971, I heard about this free, open-air concert in the field at Skidmore College. None of my friends answered their home phones. Determined, but with no ride, I hitchhiked to Saratoga Springs and found many friends already at the concert. The Allman Brothers Band played all of their Idlewild South album!

It was quite the impressive sight to see these four big southern boys lined up in a row playing guitars on a flatbed truck: Gregg and his brother Duane Allman, Dickey Betts and Berry Oakley, backed by two drummers. Gregg was also playing the Hammond organ. We were ecstatic to hear the larger-than-life quality of their musicianship playing “Midnight Rider,” “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” “Whipping Post,” “Don’t Keep Me Wondering” and the rest. Words to describe the show fail me…

The next time I saw the Allman Brothers live was in December of that same year at Hudson Valley Community College, just a few weeks after Duane had died. It was a thrill to have a common close friend of the band and be allowed backstage to party with the boys. However, the mood was cordial, but still grim, because of the conspicuous absence of Duane. The partying was intense, but not without an air of sadness.

Our discussion was too personal to repeat here. I wish my friends that I went backstage with were still alive…

Anyway, the concert was a blast, and the audience was so enthusiastic. I think the Marshall Tucker Band was the opening act. (EDITOR’S NOTE: According to the concert archives at Hittin’ the Web with the Allman Brothers Band, the opening act was the J. Geils Band.)

After the HVCC show, all their concerts were at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

LIVE: The Doobie Brothers / Gregg Allman Band @ SPAC, 9/4/15
LIVE: The Gregg Allman Band @ The Egg, 1/3/10
Gregg Allman, What Was the First Album You Ever Bought?
LIVE: Santana / the Allman Brothers Band @ SPAC, 7/27/12
Live: The Allman Brothers Band @ the Palace Theatre, 11/15/10

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1 Comment
  1. Richard Brody says

    I was at The Skidmore concert and my recollection is that the boys left their trailer, adjacent to the stage, in a cloud of smoke. Duane commented that it was a little early in the day for them, but they were happy to be outdoors. The music was great – I got to hear most of what would be on “Live at Fillmore East” and there were more Harleys on campus than Skidmore had ever seen.

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