Don’t count out Gregg Allman. Not by a long shot. Though the Allman Brothers Band broke up last fall, the original Southern rocker, 67, is going out there solo, hitting Hard Rock Live Sunday night with eight new guys to back him up. We caught up with the Midnight Rider — a Nashville native who spent many formative years in Daytona Beach — before the show.
Your current group sounds great, particularly since you added a horn section.
The best thing about it is there is only one cook in the kitchen, you know what I mean? It keeps things simple. With the Allman Brothers, things could get a bit complicated at times [laughs].
What kind of show can the audience expect?
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I can promise you that the fans who come out to the Hard Rock show are in for a good-old, kick-ass time. Folks are gonna be able to sing and dance and then walk out of there with a big smile because they were able to forget about their problems for a few hours. We’ve got a solid set list — a mixture of songs from my solo albums, several killer cover songs, and some Allman Brothers tunes, a couple of which I’ve rearranged to better suit the new sound. There will be music for everyone, whether they’re 16 or 60.
The Allman Brothers received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2012, and this year you were honored with Classic Rock magazine’s Living Legend Award. How do you feel about that type of career recognition?
I’ll tell you there was a time when awards meant nothing to me; my brother Duane [who died in a motorcycle accident in 1971] never gave a half-a-damn about stuff like that, either. At this point in my life, I guess I have developed a certain appreciation for them. Now, you do know what it really means when people call you a living legend? It just means you’re getting old!
As you look back on the 45 years of the Allman Brothers Band, what word comes to mind?
Perseverance, no doubt. Back in the early days, I thought we were going to starve to death, man. I wanted to quit every day, but there was no way my brother was going to let that happen. He always believed, and he was right. Forty-five years. That’s a long time to do anything.
The band’s final show at the Beacon Theatre last October was an epic performance — do you think your brother would have approved with how you guys closed it down?
Absolutely. Duane would have been proud that we went out on our own terms, with the music still having the quality that he expected. There was no way we were going to become a parody of ourselves, and that last show was smokin’.
What do you have planned for the new year?
We’re putting out a live CD from a show my solo band did in Macon, Georgia, last year. I’m also working towards a goal I’ve had for years: I want to cut an album made up of just my songs. The credits are going to read, “All compositions by Gregory L. Allman,” and I’m gonna make that happen.
After all these years, what does music mean to you?
I get asked that one all the time, and the answer is easy. Music is my life’s blood, man; my life’s blood.