Gregg Allman Still Dreams (Relix Revisited)
Is it important to who you are that you were born in Nashville?
Not much at all.
What you see is rarely what you get.
Well you find people like that everywhere, I don’t know if you could say that’s just conducive of the south.
I’ve always been intrigued with the south because you are different from the rest of us.
I’ve always been intrigued that there is a difference, and why is there a difference? I guess it’s because you know, one camp was full of a certain kind of people that came from the old country and another camp was full of Irish and another camp was Spaniards. Anyway, you know, we’re all for god’s sakes, I think I heard on the news back in 2005 I remember one morning I got up and I was drinking my coffee and they said, “Well today the last full-blooded, absolute pure Seminole Indian died in Florida today.”
You really have a great memory.
I do I have a far-off memory, but I can’t tell you what I had for dinner last night.
Back to the time when your brother called you and you immediately came back to Georgia. Did it all gel immediately? Did you feel like something extraordinary was happening that was different from the Hour Glass?
Not really. I did know that I was gonna start playing and singing again, and I would actually feel like there was a purpose for me being alive, because for more months than I would have liked, I mean well actually years, I mean they didn’t let the Hour Glass play. We all had sat just dormant like, we played just every now and then like at some place way out in Fullerton or Santa Ana, or aw Christ, in Bakersfield, they think all the rednecks are down south right?
So you couldn’t play because of the deal with Liberty Records because they were suing you, was that the deal?
Well, no I had to stay out there and record with their studio band, and that was just aw, I mean all the studio they could possibly charge to United Artists, they would do it. I mean we had [Hal] Blaine playing drums then we had what’s her name, that used to play, she’d come in with her hair all up in curlers, Carol Kaye, played the bass. All these expensive people, good god, who in the hell do they think is playing. And when they ran everybody off to try to do these vocals, and I mean it was just something I didn’t want to do, and they still got like two or three tracks laying somewhere with no vocals whatsoever to be found on ‘em. Cause I just kinda never got around to it. And then finally after my brother called me, I just left a note and split. I didn’t have time to call nobody up and banter back and forth about shit and have them maybe try to say, “Well we’ll legally have you locked up,” or something, you know, I wasn’t going to chance any of that because, I knew, and this is all I knew: that I was going to start singing and playing again.
It’s funny that you did it with a note, too—that was a great way to do it.
The note, it seems like somewhere around 1974 when we were riding two platinum records, it was a very good year, but we were still, you know it was only about 2 years after my brother passed away. The guy who managed the Hour Glass, oh god I can’t remember his name now. [Bill McEuen]
They all lived down in Florida. As a matter of fact I saw Jeff Hanna in the airport the other day. God he looks the same as he did man, I swear. I give [my hair] a little help. It doesn’t turn gray, it turns white. But I mean a dead white. I got this one review that said, “Yeah, he sat up on stage behind the B-3 lookin’ like he had everything all in hand and all arranged and had control of everything, looking like Ernest Hemingway.” [laughs] Ernest Hemingway with a Gabby Hayes beard, right?
You had abuse issues until finally getting sober in 1996.
It was very hard time. But it was quittin’ time. I mean, no angels floated down and said, “Hey your ass is gonna die if you drink anymore.’” I wish I could tell you that something spiritual went on. I don’t know, it’s really kind of foggy, but I just remember looking at Willie and saying, “Aw man, I am not fuckin’ all right. I am not.” I was just really, really ashamed; it’s really a feeling of like shame, but you know it’s a disease and it’s you don’t need to be there anyway, you know you got that disease.
I’ll tell you what really helped is I put together a band that was real, real good. They have evolved now into something really good. You gotta hear it now! Booker T’s drummer, Joe Jemmott playin bass. He was a dear friend of my brothers, and I got him for life. Of course I have Floyd, I got Bruce Katz— Woodstock, incredible keyboard player. [Chewing] I’m sorry I’m eating cherries, I love cherries. Raynor cherries, the yellow ones…
Back to the Allman Brothers. What was particularly southern about your band, I mean is that an important part of who you are.
Not a damn bit. I never, never liked the term southern rock except for the fact that it made a new slot in the record shops and a new place to put our records. I did like that part about it. But I mean the way I see it, there are four kings of rock and roll. Two white, and two black: Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Aaron Presley, Richard Penniman (Little Richard) and, so far everybody’s from the south, and then we got Chuck Berry who’s from St. Louis, you know some of ‘em went North, some of ‘em went South. And then you had most of the carpet baggers came from there, and you know the majority of ‘em… so saying southern rock is like saying rock rock.
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