By Brian Ives
A few weeks back, Radio.com got on the phone with Gregg Allman to discuss the forthcoming release of All My Friends: Celebrating The Songs & Voice Of Gregg Allman, a live document of a tribute concert that took place on January 10 of this year.
We were told not to ask about the future of the Allman Brothers Band, as Gregg had told Relix magazine that the Allmans were calling it a day at the end of 2014. But during the interview, he casually said, unprompted, “As for the rumor of the brothers breaking up after 45 years, in other words, after this year, that is a rumor. We are not breaking up.”
And so we ran with it.
But there was plenty more to the interview. We spoke about his health (the Allmans had recently postponed a few shows, as Gregg was fighting bronchitis), his new diet, his upcoming projects and the All My Friends concert. He even recommended a documentary! Read on.
Radio.com: Gregg, it’s great to talk to you. What’s going on? Gregg Allman: Just trying to get some morning coffee here, bruh, you know how important that is!
So I think what the fans want to know is, how are you feeling? Like a million! I have so many angels man, I am so fortunate, and so thankful. I have a thing called a-fib, I’m sure you’ve heard about it. It’s an irregular heart beat. I don’t know if I’ve got too much rhythm or what! Now, the only time your heart rests is between those beats. But I have what’s called a “flutter,” it means my heart is just firing constantly. A regular heartbeat is 60-80 beats [per minute], right now I’m at about 105, but I did go to 147. So I caught this virus, and the virus totally coated the inside of my lungs with mucus. Therefore, the lungs needed more oxygen, and it called for the heart beating more, still. So I woke up Monday before we were supposed to play Tuesday – I don’t know if you’ve ever had symptoms like this, but I just said, “Hey, baby, it’s out of my hands, I got to call the doctor.” The doctor said, “You ain’t playin’ nowhere, you get your ass in a New York hospital!” I stayed there six days, they got my heart [rate] back down, they got my lungs cleared out. I was on antibiotics: I gotta be careful what I take – and I’m sorry this is such a sermon.
No problem. So, you’re better now? They got me back to normal now, they looked at my schedule ‘til the end of the year and they said, “No wonder, what are you, trying to kill yourself?” And I said, “No, but I’m a transplant [a reference to his 2010 liver transplant] and they’ve not always got the longest to live.” But I feel perfect. I just need to start putting much more thought to my health. As in, 24-7. And so I’m doing that. I’ve done juicing, I’ve gone to health food, I’ve gone vegan, and it’s not easy, man, to find enough to eat. I don’t know what your diet is.
I’m a vegetarian, but not vegan. Then you know as well as I do, it takes some getting used to! It ain’t biscuits and gravy, you know what I’m talkin’ ‘bout? It’s like, it’s not escargot, it’s not caviar. Not that I’m that high-end! But I happen to love that stuff. I don’t know if you were into caviar, or you think it’s ridiculously priced, but man, it’s almost sexual to me! Now! End of sermon! What do you want to know, brother man?
Well, tell me about the All My Friends tribute show. Oh, man, you should have been there, and the DVD is done so well. See the movie! The same people who shot and produced and directed and set up Muscle Shoals did this film too. Did you see that movie?
Not yet, it’s on the list. Oh, brother, see it tonight! Get yourself a big fatty, and some chocolates and your old lady and get on the couch and watch Muscle Shoals, it will be an evening to remember! Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, my brother [are in it], it’s such a tribute, and it shows you exactly when the egg was cracked, and out came southern rock.
I thought you hated the term “southern rock.” I do hate it, but the only good thing about it was we had our own slot in the record shop. I don’t know why they came up with 72 different f—ing genres of music. Like, alternative. Alternative to what? To music?
How did you feel when you were watching the footage from the All My Friends show? The first thing comes to my mind is “Gregory. Do. Not. Cry. Do not start crying!” If you watch the part with me and Jackson [Browne], we did “These Days” and “Melissa” and if you look at him during the second verse of “Melissa,” and he was singing and he had a huge f—in’ crocodile tear out of the outside of his eye and I was thinking, “Don’t start, you’ll get me goin’!” And I just happened to look down at the first three or four rows, they were all crying. Everyone in that place. Then, the following Saturday night, with my new [solo] band, with my new horn players, we cut a live show at the Grand Opera House in Macon, Georgia, and it will come out probably toward mid-summer. And that band is a smokin’ motherf—er, I’ve been building it for almost eight years and it is almost complete.
So that will be a new live album? It’s a live record of my new band. It is absolutely smoking! As for the rumor of the Allman Brothers breaking up after forty-five years, in other words, after this year, that is a rumor. We are not breaking up. We are replacing Derek Trucks.
What new guitarists are you looking at? [laughs] I ain’t gonna let you in on all of it, brother! You wanna try out?