Though it is true that death has it in for us all, it’s not about to catch the Midnight Rider, Gregg Allman, anytime soon.
Allman was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2007 and underwent surgery for a liver transplant in 2010. Though the transplant was successful, the event wreaked havoc on his body.
“Man, I’m just starting to really, really feel like I’m healing, and you know, I’m starting to feel like my old self again. All the hair on my body is growing back,” the founding member of the Allman Brothers Band said and laughed. “I feel so much better. I thought I felt OK when I went in for the transplant, but I was a sick puppy, man, I really was.”
“You talk about taking on a little spirituality, that will do it, man,” he added. “I was never that way, but I am now.”
Allman will perform at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, at Bell Auditorium. Tickets are $35 and $45.50 from (877) 4AUGTIX, georgialinatix.com or the Champion’s Box Office at James Brown Arena.
What also helped the soulful singer/songwriter after his ordeal was that his most-recent album, Low Country Blues, was in the can and about to be on the shelves. It had been 14 years since his last solo album release.
Low Country Blues was released on Rounder Records in January 2011 and was nominated for a Grammy Award later that year for Best Blues Album.
There were a few reasons why Allman waited so long to release an album. One was because he was used to working with his longtime producer, Tom Dowd, who died in 2002.
“He (Dowd) produced mostly Allman Brother stuff and most of my solo stuff. He passed away,” Allman said and paused. “Bringing in a new producer is like breaking in a new guy in the band almost. Actually it’s a little more involved than that. Their job is to hear what you can’t and be objective about it. You can’t do that with just anybody.”
And Allman didn’t step into the studio with just anyone. He went in to record the latest release with T-Bone Burnett, whose production credits include major recording artists such as Robert Plant, Alison Krauss and Roy Orbison. Burnett won an Academy Award in 2010 for The Weary Kind, which was in the 2009 film Crazy Heart.
“It’s like getting in the creek when it’s still a little bit cool,” Allman said of his collaboration with Burnett. “Once we started working together, man, it just fell right together. It couldn’t have been more perfect.”
Burnett collected several obscure blues tunes, narrowed the list down to about 20 selections and then passed them to Allman, who reviewed the shortlist and chose which ones he wanted to revamp and record.
When Allman went in to record, Burnett pushed him out of the comfort zone by canning many of the tracks after one cut.
“I don’t like first takes myself because you always wonder, man, could we have done that better,” Allman said. “The first take means it’s the first time with the red light. It’s the first time that you ran it down and sometimes it just happens.”
Allman also recently released his autobiography, My Cross to Bear. Other plans developing include touring and another stream of recording sessions for an upcoming project. Details for that album are still being worked out. It isn’t clear whether Allman will have Burnett at the soundboard, but he wants to.
So, does the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer have any fond memories of his performances in Augusta?
“I played Augusta on and off since the ’60s,” Allman said. “I played a club there. It feels like I’ve been playing Augusta all my life.”