Rock pioneer Gregg Allman dies, aged 69

Along with his brother Duane, Allman formed The Allman Brothers band - who have been credited by many with innovating southern rock music

The rock pioneer Gregg Allman has died, aged 69.

Allman was best known for forming The Allman Brothers Band with his sibling Duane in 1969. Taking up organ and singing duties for the band, they released three platinum-selling albums in the US: ‘At Fillmore East’ (1971, a live album), ‘Eat A Peach’ (1972) and the acclaimed ‘Brothers and Sisters’ in 1973.

Born in Nashville, Tennessee on December 8 1947, Allman was raised with Duane by a single mother. Growing up, Allman later revealed to The Guardian that he learned to play music “mostly from black people: the clubs on Daytona Beach, Surf Bar, Paradise, all black dudes. We used to listen to a station that called itself ‘the black spot on your dial.’ It played Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, and it hit Duane and me like spaghetti hitting a wall.”

The brothers formed The Allman Brothers Band in 1969, which also saw the release of their self-titled debut album. The group quickly became famous for their live albums and performances, as well as for writing such songs as ‘Ramblin’ Man’, ‘Midnight Rider’ and ‘Jessica’ – the latter becoming recognised in later years as the theme for Top Gear.

However, shortly after the release of ‘At Fillmore East’ in 1971, Duane was killed in a motorcycle accident, aged just 24. The band’s original bassist, Berry Oakley, also died in a motorcycle accident the year after, again aged 24.

Allman dipped in and out of The Allman Brothers Band during his career, and, as well as touring extensively, he released eleven studio albums, culminating with 2011’s ‘Low Country Blues’.

A statement on Allman’s website reads: “It is with deep sadness we announce that Gregg Allman, a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band, passed away peacefully at his home in Savannah, Georgia.

“Gregg struggled with many health issues over the past several years. During that time, Gregg considered being on the road playing music with his brothers and solo band for his beloved fans, essential medicine for his soul. Playing music lifted him up and kept him going during the toughest of times.”

Allman’s long time manager and close friend Michael Lehman added: “I have lost a dear friend and the world has lost a brilliant pioneer in music.  He was a kind and gentle soul with the best laugh I ever heard.  His love for his family and bandmates was passionate as was the love he had for his extraordinary fans.  Gregg was an incredible partner and an even better friend.  We will all miss him.”

Allman’s former wife Cher tweeted “words are impossible” after learning of the sad news.