Gregg Allman on the road to recovery

His touring show this year, which lands at the House of Blues in downtown San Diego Wednesday night,also features Allman's 31-year-old son, Devon, who fronts the rock 'n' soul band Honeytribe.

“It's really great,” Allman enthused. “I remember the first time I heard that (jazz great) Dave Brubeck was going on the road and had two of his sons in his band. I thought, man, what a great thing, to have your kids play with you.

“Now, (Devon) is no kid, he's half as old as me,” he said chuckling.

His other son, Elijah Blue, from his marriage to Cher, fronts the hard-rock band Deadsy. The proud father was quick to point out that both his boys accomplished everything on their own.

And that led to a recounting of his early days with the Allman Brothers Band.

“In 1970, we worked 306 nights and I don't think I made enough to pay income tax, I think I made $1,600 for the year,” Allman said, laughing. “We'd play Philly on a Saturday night and find a park to play for free the next day.

“We'd borrow a generator and somehow, some way, set up and start playing and the next thing you know 2,000 people are there. ... All that's changed, though.”

His solo career began with “Laid Back” in 1973, a masterstroke featuring the hit reworking of “Midnight Rider,” as well as fresh, emotional originals like “Multi-Colored Lady” and “Queen of Hearts.”

Allman, who self-medicated himself for decades, recently said he got sober on Oct. 29, 1996 – the 25th anniversary of Duane Allman's death. By all accounts, he has remained on the wagon. In addition to working on new music, he said he is two-thirds finished with his autobiography. Unhappy with past Allman Brothers tomes such as “Midnight Riders,” by Scott Freeman, Allman decided to tell the tale himself.

“Might as well put it out there as it is,” Allman said. “My book is funny, but there are some tearful parts. I stay away from the drug and alcohol stuff except to warn people you're being fooled if you think you sound your best up there when you're stoned.”

Allman hasn't released a solo record since 1997, but The Allman Brothers Band's last studio release, “Hittin' the Note” (2003), was hailed as the group's best album in decades. Allman said he plans to work on both new solo and Brothers albums next spring. His current solo tour takes him through the winter. Next spring and summer he will again team with the Brotherhood.

“I'm looking down the barrel of 60 years old, I'm 58, people say there's gotta come a day,” Allman said. “But retire from what? If the tour bus don't kill me, I'll do this as long as I can. I got to play because as much as I have been playing the last 10 years with my two bands I'll get home and just be exhausted. But four or five weeks later it's like 'Come on, let's do something.' ”

Wade Tatangelo writes for McClatchy Newspapers.

Greeg Allman, pictured right, and Warren Haynes performing "These Days" (3/28/2007). The song was written by Gregg's former roommate, Jackson Browne.

A close friend of Gregg Allman emailed me on Monday with good news. The singer/songwriter/golden voice of the Allman Brothers Band canceled a bunch of recent shows, including ABB's Wanee dates, due to hepatitis C. But it sounds like his condition is improving. "Talked to Gregg today," she noted. "He is on the road to good health and will be glad to get back out on the road." I'm a big ABB fan. Here's an interview I did with Allman in 2006 for McClatchy Newspapers. This one ran in the San Diego Union-Tribune:

A midnight rider and his son ride into town

By Wade Tatangelo

November 30, 2006

Gregg Allman was in good spirits when he answered the telephone at his home near Savannah, Ga., recently. The singer-keyboardist had just been inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Atlanta. He was already a member of the Georgia and Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame as part of the Allman Brothers Band.

Allman sounded sincerely moved to be in the company of his heroes, fellow Georgia greats James Brown, Little Richard, Otis Redding, “Statesboro Blues” composer Blind Willie McTell and his late brother, Duane Allman, who was also inducted, posthumously, as a solo act in 1982.

“I appreciated it quite a bit,” Allman said in his soft Southern drawl.

The 58-year-old was inducted along with R.E.M., whose members joined him on a rendition of “Midnight Rider,” the Allman Brothers song Gregg rearranged as a hit single for his 1972 solo album “Laid Back.”

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