Event marks first paid gig of The Allman Brothers Band in Macon

bpurser@macon.comMay 4, 2014 

Forty-five years ago, The Allman Brothers Band played their first paid gig in Macon under the Capricorn Record label in what was then The College Discotheque.

It was May 2, 1969.

Advanced tickets sold for a $1. And day of show tickets cost “a whopping $1.50,” said Dave Pierson, president of The Georgia Allman Brothers Band Association. GABBA is a collection of fans dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the band’s musical heritage.

The Allman Brothers Band formed in Jacksonville, Florida, in late March 1969. But by May, the band had moved to Macon, the home of Phil Walden and Capricorn Records.

“It was here that their career began in earnest,” Pierson said.

Sunday afternoon, fans of the group gathered at the same site of the band’s first paid gig -- now The Library Ballroom on Mulberry Street -- to reminisce and hear Mystery Road at the Allman Brothers Band 45th Anniversary Reception and Dedication.

The reception included the unveiling of a plaque commemorating the 1969 concert. The plaque is attached to the outside of the building near the front door.

“It’s just special to all the folks that grew up to Allman Brothers music,” said Tony Widner, owner of The Library Ballroom, of the commemorative event. “It’s part of our music heritage of Macon.”

Melanie Thomason Carver, who grew up in Macon, was among the fans.

“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” Carver said. “I know Mystery Road. I’ve heard them a lot so I had to come see them.”

Carver said the commemorative event was important in part to keep the music alive.

“Macon has such a rich heritage and history of not just music but art,” Carver said. “And I think somewhere along the line, we were starting to lose that and I think we’re getting it back.”

Rusty Edwards, from Marietta said he came because he loves the music of the Allman Brothers Band.

“I think it’s good to celebrate, to remember, to see what’s important to the community of Macon and also the band and the band’s family,” said Edwards, a lifetime member of GABBA and founder and society member of The Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House, in Macon.

“Being a part of the Allman Brothers extended family is just the love that goes on for people. I’ve made many, many friends here, dear, dear friends. I’ve ended up doing funerals for friends of the Allman Brothers family and just being a part of the love that brings us all together,” he said.

Earlier this year, Gregg Allman announced that the band would stop touring after 2014.

That announcement followed an earlier one that band guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Tucks planned to leave the group at the year’s end.

“While this leaves many unanswered questions as to the future of the band, I think we would all agree they have left a timeless body of work for us all to enjoy,” Pierson told the fans. “If this is truly the end of the line for the Allman Brothers Band, it will have ended on a high note.

“We have the music. We have the memories of the concert gatherings and we have the friendships that were made as a result of the music which brought all of us together in GABBA in the first place,” he said.

That said, Pierson added his hope is for a 50th anniversary celebration sometime in 2019.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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