Big House becomes mecca for Allman Brothers fans
The Allman Brothers Band Museum in Macon became a mecca Sunday for fans mourning the death of co-founder Gregg Allman.
People were lined up to enter by the time the doors opened, said Greg Potter, museum trustee. Fans were leaving flowers and other tributes on the steps of what is commonly referred to as The Big House. The house was the band’s home in the early 1970s as they formed a distinctive Southern rock sound and rose to fame.
Allman, 69, died Saturday of liver cancer at his home in Savannah, his manager Michael Lehman told the Associated Press. Lehman also said Allman will be buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, where his brother Duane is also buried.
“That’s in his wishes,” Lehman said.
Duane Allman, guitarist in the band, died in a motorcycle crash in Macon in 1971. He is buried in a fenced lot with Berry Oakley, bass player for the Allman Brothers who was also killed in a motorcycle accident in Macon the year after Allman.
Lehman told the Associated Press that Gregg Allman would be buried alongside his brother. However, Dave Caplice, who maintains the lot on behalf of Oakley’s sister, said Gregg Allman will not be buried on that lot. He said Allman said in an interview last year that he had bought 10 lots at Rose Hill and those may be adjacent to the lot where Duane Allman and Oakley are buried, but he will not be buried in the same lot.
Maggie Johnson, the museum’s marketing director, was happy to hear the news that Gregg Allman would be buried in Macon.
“I think that’s great,” she said. “It’s going to be really nice to have him there with his brother.”
There were no further details on funeral arrangements or whether the burial would be public.
Potter said ordinarily about 50 people would come to the museum on a Sunday, but that number was surpassed shortly after the doors opened.
“It’s just shaken so many people,” he said. “Most people didn’t know he was as sick as he was. It has just been a real shock.”
Among those paying respects were Barry Joiner of Swainsboro and his 17-year-old daughter, Regan, who is also a fan of the band. They decided to make the pilgrimage after hearing of Allman’s death Saturday.
“I was deeply saddened,” Joiner said. “I grew up listening to the Allman Brothers. I’ve listened to them all my life. The band itself was different than anything around and still is.”
Tom and Penny Dolan of Tallahassee, Florida, already were driving to Macon for their first visit to The Big House when they heard the news Saturday. Tom left flowers on the steps Sunday before they entered the house.
“It just seems like we are losing more and more of the great artists I grew up with,” he said.
Phillip Walters of Macon was there wearing a “Gregg Allman Band” T-shirt. He said the first album he ever bought was by the Allman Brothers.
“He was a legend,” Walters said. “He put Macon on the map with Southern rock and roll.”
Some had close view of Allman’s success
Many Middle Georgia residents have memories of meeting Gregg Allman personally during the band’s Macon years. But some had a close up view of the group’s success.
Sebie Lacey and Mike Causey were members of the Warner Robins group Stillwater and toured with the Allman Brothers Band in 1976-77. They were the opening act, performing in front of thousands.
“It was great,” said Lacey, a businessman today. “Who wouldn’t want to open for the Allman Brothers? It was an awesome thing and the music was so good.”
Although he had not kept in touch with Allman, Lacey said he was deeply saddened by the news of Allman’s death.
“He was a great vocalist and a great musician,” Lacey said. “When he sang a song he sang it will feeling and passion. You knew it was Gregg singing.”
Causey saw the Allman Brothers Band perform at a famous music festival in Byron in 1970 that drew a crowd estimated at more than 200,000.
“They were incredible,” Causey said. “They came out and stole the show. I won’t ever forget it.”
He said Stillwater would likely not have had the success that it did without Allman’s influence, and he has fond memories of opening for the band.
“It was just an incredible experience,” he said. “I was just excited to have the opportunity to play with them and be around them.”
Paul Hornsby of Macon was a producer and keyboardist for The Marshall Tucker Band, which also played the Southern rock sound that Allman pioneered. Hornsby played with Gregg and Duane in a band called The Hour Glass before they formed the separate bands that would vault them to success.
“The first time I met Duane and Gregg, I knew they were stars waiting to happen,” he said.