Gregg Allman, who passed away this Saturday at the age of 69, carved his name into the annals of rock n’ roll history through his iconic work with The Allman Brothers Band—a group he co-founded with his brother Duane. Yet life for the music legend was not always easy. His struggles with addiction often interfered with his personal relationships in devastating ways.
Elijah Blue Allman, his son with ex-wife Cher, was one notable example. Elijah spoke about his father’s absence from his early life in an interview with Howard Stern back in 2006.
According to Elijah, Cher had purposefully kept Allman away from their son during the peak of Allman’s addiction to alcohol and various drugs.
“I think my mom was smart to sort of keep him at bay, when I had just enough to make it so that I knew that he was there,” he explained to Stern.
Nonetheless, Elijah felt the absence his father left behind. To fill that void, he formed a close bond with some of the men Cher dated later on, after her marriage to Allman broke apart.
“What happened was, I was sort of really gripping for a dad, or some sort of father figure,” Elijah explained to Stern. “So you got to understand, a lot of those guys I would cling to because that’s what little dudes do. You cling to the nearest older dude.”
— jess fernandez (@forkbender) May 28, 2017
He mentioned, however, that as he grew up, he began to see his father a bit more, and even went on tours with him. Yet their difficulties remained. When asked about whether he had a relationship with Allman now, Elijah’s response underscored the consequences of that early estrangement.
“My relationship with him is still that of a dude who didn’t have a relationship with his dad ever,” he said. “But the good thing about when you get a little older is that you start to realize, ‘well listen, I’m not trying to be the angry kid anymore, I really want to form some sort of bond with my dad.’ You start to just get the feeling of mortality—that he’s not going to be around forever.”
Elijah, who is a prominent musician in his own right, also spoke about his own past struggles with drug addiction, and how these experiences helped him better understand what his father was going through.
“From my own struggles…with addiction and what not, I empathize and it’s not such an angry thing that I have towards him. It’s a little bit more of a compassionate thing.”
R.I.P. Gregg Allman: An Appreciation https://t.co/cRxZkIhKXu
— Brian Mullen (@BostonBrian2015) May 28, 2017
Gregg Allman’s life had been one marked by great success, yet also undercut by extreme setbacks. His music—both as a member of the Allman Brothers Band and in his solo work—earned him the love of millions of devoted fans, and even led to his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.
But he knew his share of tragedy too. His brother Duane died in a motorcycle accident in the early 1970s. Just over a year later, the bassist of The Allman Brothers Band, Berry Oakley, also lost his life in a motorcycle accident. Strangely enough, the incident occurred only three blocks away from the site of Duane’s accident. Both were 24 at the time of their death.
Allman’s addiction to heroin, cocaine, and alcohol was another major hardship he faced, and one that he struggled with nearly his entire adult life. According to The Tennessean, it was not until 1995 that Allman was able to finally sober up, “ending decades of alcohol and drug use.”
It’s likely these habits contributed to his eventual decline in health. His manager, Michael Lehman, pointed out the official cause of death in an interview with the Associated Press.
“It’s a result of his reoccurrence of liver cancer that had come back five years ago,” Lehman explained. “He kept it very private because he wanted to continue to play music until he couldn’t.”
Lehman also mentioned that Allman had died peacefully, surrounded by loved ones at his home in Savannah, Georgia.
In addition to his son, Elijah Blue, he also leaves behind four other children, Michael Sean, Devon, Delilah Island Kurtom, and Layla Brooklyn Allman, along with his wife Shannon Allman, and his three grandchildren.
For a compilation of great Gregg Allman moments, check out the fantastic Youtube tribute below.
[Featured Image by Jemal Countess/Getty Images]