What Do the Allman Brothers Do Now?
The sudden and potentially devastating departure of two key members has left the Allman Brothers Band — not to mention their fans — reeling. Will the group retire again? Reload? Turn back to past members? We explore the options.
WILL THEY RETIRE?
Sadly, this doesn’t seem like such a long shot. And it wouldn’t be the first time. The Allman Brothers Band have shuttered three other times already, between 1976-78, 1982-86 and then after a brief reunion in 1986 through 1989.
Meanwhile, band leader Gregg Allman has suffered through a series of health problems recently, canceling their legendary Beacon Theatre run in 2008 while he underwent Hepatitis C treatments. In 2010, he had a liver transplant. And after a bout with respiratory illness in 2011, he canceled summer tour dates.
The 66-year-old Allman simply may not want to go through the hassle of putting the group back together again at this late date. The Allman Brothers have been largely stable since 1999, but the decade immediately following their restart in 1989 saw a number of lineup changes. (Among those who came and went in this era were founding member Dickey Betts; the late bassist Allen Woody, also a member of the exiting Warren Haynes’ other band Gov’t Mule; guitarist Jack Pearson; and keyboardist Johnny Neel.) It could take some time, once again, to stabilize things.
While none of the group’s other longtime members have struggled with the sort of health issues that have plagued its leader, drummer Jai Johanny Johanson, 69, is at retirement age. The band’s other drummer, Butch Trucks, is 66.
CAN THEY RELOAD?
Despite the difficulty in losing both Derek Trucks (with the Allmans since 1999) and Haynes (1989-1997, 2000–2012), the group has weathered its share of tough times before. After the deaths of founding members Duane Allman and Berry Oakley in the early ’70s, they soldiered on. Lamar Williams and Dan Tolar, a pair of performers who joined later in the decade, have also passed.
So, who are the potential candidates to get the Allman Brothers Band back out on the road?
When Haynes left (then, as now, to focus on Gov’t Mule) between 1997-2000, he was replaced by Pearson, who was part of the earlier Gregg Allman and Friends tours. That makes him a strong candidate. Meanwhile, Jimmy Herring of Widespread Panic was previously in Col. Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit with current ABB bassist Oteil Burbridge, and he memorably sat in with the Allmans during their summer 2000 tour.
If the Allmans are looking for a bigger name to help anchor them over the next decade or so, Doyle Bramhall II collaborated with Gregg Allman on his most recent solo album. Buzz Feiten and Little Feat’s Fred Tackett have also worked with the Allmans over the years.
They could continue the trend of hiring relatives, following in the footsteps of Butch Trucks’ nephew Derek: Devon Allman, Gregg’s son, is a talented multi-instrumentalist; Trucks’ son Vaylor is an Atlanta-based guitarist. Or, in what seems like a very long shot, they might bring back Dickey Betts, a co-founding member who had been in every previous incarnation of the group before his nasty split in 2000. Unfortunately, Betts has apparently been battling his own illnesses lately.
What do you think the Allman Brothers should do next? Let us know by voting below.