Remembering Gregg Allman And My Very First Radio Interview
Duane Allman just got his baby brother back.
The passing of Gregg Allman last Saturday hit me hard as it did for all his fans. Even though we knew he'd been fighting health problems for quite a while it's still hard to take. As I started listening to his music that evening I thought about all the great summer Allman Brothers Band concerts I went to with my brothers Marty and Chad along with Marty's wife June at the Meadows in Hartford.
My first Allmans show was back in the summer of '97 and I was so moved by the experience I went out and got as much Allmans music as I could including their amazing box set. One moment that night which still stays with me after all these years was when the band kicked into what is my favorite all-time Allman Bros. song "Dreams".
I still remember just taking in the moment, hearing the band play the song live on that hot summer night, looking around at all the Allman Brothers Band fans completely in the zone. It's a feeling you know well if you're a die-hard fan of music no matter what the era, genre or artist.
I also can't think about Gregg Allman without thinking about him being my very first radio interview. You wanna talk about a moment? This was IT. It was back in June of 2000 when The Allman Brothers Band was about to play at The Meadows Music Theater.
At this point my interview experience was primarily as a sports writer interviewing high school coaches and athletes. My radio experience was limited to being on the air and producing a few commercials. I had yet to land an artist interview until that point and it just happened that it was going to be with the living legend Gregg Allman, the man whose voice and music was embedded in my mind, heart and soul.
As I started preparing for the interview I remember trying to convince myself that I was going to be just fine. I thought, "Hey, you've done plenty of interviews, you've got a journalism degree, you've got this. Just do your job and don't be nervous." I held on to that thought right up until the moment I got the call from Gregg's manager in the studio. Then it was as if I just took my hands off the wheel while driving 100 mph on the freeway.
My heart started to pound out of my chest as he handed the phone over to Gregg. Then I hear the voice of Gregg Allman say, "Eric how ya doin?!". My brain sped up to about a million miles per hour and the first thing that came out of my mouth was, "Hey Gregg what's up?! I'm like psyched to be talkin' to you man!" Oh my God what did I just say?! I imagined Gregg Allman just rolling his eyes and hanging up the phone...But he didn't.
I eventually started to settle in and was able to get out my questions. It turned out that Gregg was so cool to me both on and off the air. Keep in mind that I was told by more than a few DJs previously that Gregg Allman can be cantankerous and hard to interview. He was anything but that. My guess is that was because he was clean and sober by that point so it was a totally different Gregg Allman that I was talking with.
I've decided to put that interview on YouTube for you to check out and you can hear it above. The audio is a little weathered but I think it's good enough to share. I was fortunate enough to interview Gregg again a couple of years later but it's this one from 2000 that is extra special to me especially now that he's gone.
R.I.P. Gregg Allman. You will be missed but your music will go on forever.