Officially, Allman Brothers Band singer, keyboardist, and bandleader Gregg Allman’s cause of death was complications from liver cancer. However, even as he fought his battle with the disease that ultimately claimed his life on Saturday, the Southern rock legend kept this battle private, as he remained dedicated to entertaining fans for as long as he could.
On Saturday afternoon, rock fans dealt with another huge loss, as the 69-year-old Allman died at his home near Savannah, Georgia, surrounded by his loved ones. And in a brief statement issued to the Associated Press (c/o ABC News), manager Michael Lehman confirmed Gregg Allman’s cause of death, and why he decided to keep his health issues under wraps.
“It’s a result of his reoccurrence of liver cancer that had come back five years ago. He kept it very private because he wanted to continue to play music until he couldn’t.”
Having formed the Allman Brothers Band in 1969 with his brother Duane, who died in a motorcycle accident in 1971, Gregg Allman was an icon of Southern rock in the 1970s, gaining fame for his soulful lead vocals and keyboard excursions. As CNN recalled, Gregg and his bandmates were heavy drug and alcohol users during their heyday, but Gregg Allman’s cause of death might not have been directly connected to his once-copious alcohol consumption, contrary to what most people know about liver cancer or liver diseases in general.
They got called Southern rock. But it was much more than rock, and it reflected a lot more than the South. https://t.co/xpZXWCVPGP— NPR (@NPR) May 28, 2017
In a 2012 interview with CMT News, Gregg Allman candidly discussed the myriad of health issues he had experienced since the late 1990s, some three years after he quit drinking. In 1999, Allman was diagnosed with hepatitis C after doctors had found two spots in the rocker’s liver, and in recalling his diagnosis, he told the publication that doctors believe he may have gotten the disease from an infected tattoo needle.
For years, Allman’s doctors kept close tabs on his medical condition, and by 2008, Gregg was placed on interferon, with the treatment turning out to be unsuccessful. That was also the year when the spots on his liver had become tumors. This led to a liver cancer diagnosis — Gregg Allman’s cause of death close to a decade later.
“They introduced me to the people at the Mayo Clinic. I went there and had a chemoablation. That’s a thing where they go through your femoral artery and shoot your liver with chemo. After all of that, it was still there. They told me the tumors were getting bigger.”
Allman would receive a liver transplant in 2010, and while he suffered some medical setbacks that caused him to cancel some shows in 2011, he appeared healthy during the CMT News interview, determined to continue educating people about hepatitis C, and how it could, on occasion, turn into liver cancer if not caught early.
In 2014, Allman admitted in an interview with Radio.com that he had recently been suffering from atrial fibrillation or an irregular heartbeat. He added that he had switched to a vegan diet in an attempt to get healthier, but noted that he was “(feeling) perfect” at the time.
There was no mention of Gregg Allman’s eventual cause of death when rumors floated in April that he had checked into a hospice facility. According to Rolling Stone, Allman quickly shot down those rumors, simply issuing a statement saying that he was resting on doctor’s orders, and looking forward to playing more concerts once he got healthy again.
A month before that report, Allman canceled several shows that would have taken place next month, and confirmed that he would not be touring in 2017, but did not specify any reason for the cancellations. In August 2016, Gregg had canceled another 28 shows, citing “serious health issues” but not going into any detail about them.
Allman’s final performances took place in October 2016 at the Laid Back Festival but withdrew from his winter tour that year due to vocal injuries. TheInquisitr wrote yesterday that Gregg found it very hard to cancel these shows, having lived to entertain his fans, either with the Allman Brothers Band or as a solo artist, for the past 45 years.
Nonetheless, it would seem that Gregg Allman was so dedicated to his craft and his fans that there were no posts on his Facebook page suggesting that he was close to death, or suffering from health problems in the days leading up to Saturday. Previous posts made no mention of any health issues, rather focusing on the charitable causes Gregg had supported, as well as clips from earlier Allman Brothers Band performances through the years.
[Featured Image by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images]