My journey as a fan of the Allman Brothers Band began on a cold March night in 1971. Awaiting the arrival of a friend I stood among a throng of people on the corner of Second Avenue and Sixth Street. In my pocket I was holding two tickets for the Johnny Winter late show at Fillmore East. It was a few minutes before eight, and my friend was late as we were to have met an hour ago to get a bite to eat. As the early show ticker holders slowly moved into the theatre, a guy whom I never saw before walked over to me and asked if I wanted his spare ticket for the early show. With my friend nowhere in sight, and it being extremely cold, I pocketed the ticket, but remained outside in hopes of seeing my friend show up.
At 8:30, now extremely cold, and with no crowd left outside, I entered the building. Ticket torn in half by the usher, and with program in my hand I walked to the upper balcony where I would sit. The opening act, The Elvin Bishop Group, was ending and the intermission began.
Walls of amplifiers, a Hammond B-3 organ and TWO sets of drums were taking their place on the stage. While a black and white cartoon played over the big screen located directly behind the equipment, I could hear the sounds of guitars tuning up. The house lights still dimmed and with the cartoon now over, a single spotlight hit the stage and a simple announcement was made, “Ladies and gentlemen, The Allman Brothers Band”. Not the headliners for that night but after playing for a bit over an hour, you could have fooled me.These guys were good.
After the first show ended, I finally met up with my friend. It was about 11:15 p.m. and he was a bit angry that I had taking the opportunity to see the first show leaving him alone and out in the cold. After he calmed down, we went to get something to eat. Sitting in the pizza shop across the street I told him about this incredible band I just saw. While at first he did not believe me as he was there to see the headliner Johnny Winter, he changed his allegiance by 6:30 a.m. when we left the late show.
The late show started very late at about midnight. The first act ELVIN BISHOP GROUP had to cut their sey short due to a bomb scare. The entire audience had to vacate the venue and then reenter a bit later. By 2 a.m. we were back in our seats entertained by a very short set from Johnny Winter. I was confused. I thought, due to the time and the scare, the “Brothers” would be cancelled. Thankfully I was wrong.
Same cartoon as the early show intermission, same equipment being set up, and then “thanks for waiting, we will make it up to those still here”. It was a different voice. No spotlight, and now a “1, 2, 3…” Statesboro Blues. The sun up when we left the theatre, with two ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND shows under my belt, knowing there would be more to come.
Here I am 46 years later, now with 47 ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND shows under my belt, and I hear the news that BROTHER GREGG ALLMAN passed away today. As my wife said, “You knew it was coming, he was very sick”. Yes, I knew but I was not ready, not ready to never hearing the live version of his bluesy vocals. Not ready to never see him behind a Hammond B-3, not ready to end the run. As he sang so many nights “the road goes on forever”…but not tonight.
Rest in Peace, my Brother, thanks for all the great nights I watched you grace the stages.Thanks for all the wonderful music.Just….THANKS.
All prayers and thoughts go out to your family and friends at this time.