By Ron Harris, AP
ATLANTA–An all-star lineup of musicians feted Gregg Allman Friday night at a tribute concert heralding the southern rock luminary and the blues rock that influenced many artists to follow his band’s early 1970s success.
Traditionally, Allman’s biggest fans have been in the audience, dancing and swaying to his southern rock ensemble’s well known songs like “Melissa” and “Midnight Rider.” But on this night those effusing about Allman the most were on stage in Atlanta, performing for him and beside him — including Jackson Browne, Taj Mahal and Vince Gill.
Allman said he was humbled by the outpouring of appreciation from his musical colleagues.
“I try not to think about it just directly. It’s kind of like we all came to the gig together,” Allman said backstage before the show. “It’s pretty overwhelming but I’ve got the music to hang onto, to keep me on the ground. Otherwise they’d have to take me out of here on a string, like a balloon.”
Allman, who has come back strong from a liver transplant in recent years, said he feels years younger and fit enough to go on the road again.
“I feel like a million. The Mayo Clinic people not only saved my life. I feel 30 years old, day and night,” Allman said.
Taj Mahal said agreeing to play the one-night special show was a quick decision because the Allman Brothers Band is part of the fabric of American music.
“Anybody who listens to American music is going to have to hear them,” Mahal said. “They just went with good music and stayed with good music.”
Vince Gill provided some of the best moments of the night, riveting the audience with some hot guitar licks and vocals on “Midnight Rider.” Other country stars, including Martina McBride and Eric Church, also performed soulful version of the band’s well-known songs.
The event signals a bit of a wind down for the Allman Brothers Band as two members, Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks, announced earlier this week they are leaving the band at the end of 2014. Haynes joined the group in 1989, and Trucks became a member in 1999. Trucks’ uncle Butch Trucks was the drummer and one of the founding members of the Allman Brothers band.
The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.