When I told my long-hair hippie friends in Berkeley, Calif., in the early ‘70s that I was moving my family to Macon, they said: “Cool, dude. That’s the home of the Allman Brothers.” They knew. And if you lived around Macon in 1970, you heard their music blasting out of the Capricorn studios.
Many of you, I know, used to stroll down Vineville Avenue on a Sunday afternoon to catch a glimpse of the “bearded wonders” playing their guitars on the porch of the Big House where they lived for three years.
Then on Friday, Oct. 29, 1971, Duane Allman decided to take his Harley out for a spin. He had been touring and recording with the band for months, and he needed to let the cool Georgia breeze blow across his face. He roared out of the Big House, up Vineville and turned left on Pio Nono to Hillcrest Avenue where he raced up and down those hills for five blocks when he suddenly hit a flatbed truck. He died several hours later in Macon Hospital. Duane was 24; his little daughter, Galadrielle, was 2.
Today, Macon welcomes back that little daughter. At 4 p.m. this afternoon in the backyard of the Big House Museum on Vineville, beautiful and charming and redheaded Galadrielle Allman will begin signing her new book: “Please Be With Me, A Song For My Father, Duane Allman.”
Her father was the co-founder and primary leader of the Allman Brothers Band and was already a legend when he died that Friday afternoon. Since then, his fame and music have made him one of the world’s greatest guitarists, second only to Jimi Hendrix. Fans come every weekend from all over the world to see the home where he lived and wrote his songs. Galadrielle has spent years gathering the truth of her famous dad’s wild life and has left out nothing -- not even the very painful parts -- in her tender story of the father she barely knew.
“The void he left can never be filled. It is that simple,” she writes in the book’s introduction. “I wanted to fill that space with knowledge of him, but I did not know how and the confusion that created was constant. The force of my longing for my father was a defining part of me from the beginning, and nothing could touch it.”
Middle Georgians will enjoy Galadrielle’s description of Macon in the springtime: “White magnolia blossoms hanging heavily in the trees, fallen pink cherry petals swirling on the cobblestone streets, and new grass growing in so green it hurts to look right at it.” And Allman Brothers fans who thought they knew everything about their hero will be amazed as they read secrets that have been hidden all these years.
One more wonderful thing: Tommy Talton will be making Allman Brothers music in the yard behind the Big House Museum as Galadrielle is signing her name to the book about her father. Tommy is one of the best songwriters and guitarists of our time and a founding member of the Capricorn Records group Cowboy and a close friend of Duane’s. Throughout most of the ‘70s, Talton was a studio musician recording with artists such as Gregg Allman, The Allman Brothers Band, Bonnie Bramlett, Martin Mull, Corky Lang, Dickey Betts and Clarence Carter. And Sunday afternoon, Tommy Talton will be all ours.
It’ll be an afternoon to remember for a long, long time.
Dr. Bill Cummings is the CEO of Cummings Consolidated Corporation and Cummings Management Consultants. His website is digitallydrc.com.