For the first time, rock music icon Gregg Allman, one of the founding members of The Allman Brothers Band, tells the full story of his life and career in My Cross to Bear. No subject is taboo, as one of the true giants of rock ’n’ roll opens up about his Georgia youth, his long struggle with substance abuse, his string of bad marriages (including his brief union with superstar Cher), the tragic death of brother Duane Allman, and life on the road in one of rock’s most legendary bands.
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A Q&A with Gregg Allman
Q: Why did you want to write this book and tell your story?
Allman: I’d actually been thinking about doing a book for a long time, and since the 80s, I’d been putting bits and pieces of the story together. Just a bit here a bit there, that sort of thing. There have been a few books about the Allman Brothers over the year, and they all seem to tell one of two stories—either we were all out there sowing our wild oats, or we were constantly surrounded by tragedy. None of them really got the feeling of the band right, and that was what I set out to do.
Q: What impact have your health struggles over the last few years had on the way you think about your life and history?
Allman: Well, as I said, I’ve been working on this book for a while, but my health being what it has been over the last couple of years gave me an extra push to get the whole story down on paper. Last fall I was pretty sick, and I had this thought that it just wasn’t my time yet. I’ve still got more songs in me, more stories to tell. I guess this is one of ‘em.
Q: Was it hard to make yourself think about the darker times in your life?
Allman: It was. I wanted to be as honest as I could, but at the same time, looking back like this was tough. Facing the past isn’t easy. I threw down though, and didn’t hold back. I didn’t want anything colored up.
Q: What do you hope an Allman Brothers fan would learn about you from this book?
Allman: As I said before, for years, when people have talked about the band, they’ve tended to focus on the tragedy or the insanity of our history. Make no mistake, those are in the book and they’re very real. But a lot of people don’t understand just how much fun we had—especially in the beginning. I tried hard to include the good as well as the bad.
Q: Has spending this time looking back at the band's history given you a different appreciation for what the Allman Brothers have accomplished?
Allman: I’m not so sure it’s a different appreciation so much as just amazed and proud that we’re still here today. In the book, I talk about when my brother first called me about being in the band he said he had these two drummers and two lead guitarists, and I remember thinking that sounded like a train wreck. But somehow it worked then and it’s worked ever since. It’s an incredible band, filled with incredible musicians, and I’ve been very lucky to be a part of it.
Q: Do you think that your kids will learn about you from reading this story? How about your bandmates?
Allman: Sometimes when you’re on the road with someone, it’s easy to lose sight of just how far you’ve come. I’ve lived with these stories for a long time, but having them together, all in one place, is something else. Everyone always takes something different away from what they read. I can’t say what people will learn, but my hope is they have some fun along the way.From the Back Cover:
As one of the greatest rock icons of all time, Gregg Allman has lived it all and then some. For almost fifty years, he's been creating some of the most recognizable songs in American rock, but never before has he paused to reflect on the long road he's traveled. Now, he tells the unflinching story of his life, laying bare the unvarnished truth about his wild ride that has spanned across the years.
The story begins simply: with Gregg and his older brother, Duane, growing up in the South, raising hell with their guitars, and drifting from one band to another. But all that changed when Duane and Gregg came together with four other men to forge something new—a unique sound shaped by soul, rock, and blues and brimming with experimentation; a sound not just of a band, but of a family.
Bringing to life the carefree early days of the Allman Brothers Band, Gregg holds nothing back—from run-ins with the law to meeting girls on the road, from jamming at the Fillmore East to experimenting with drugs. Along the way, he goes behind the scenes of some of greatest rock music ever recorded, without shying away from the infamous and painful deaths of his brother, Duane, and Allman Brothers bassist Berry Oakley. Speaking for the first time about the profound impact that his brother's death had on him, Gregg offers a tribute to Duane that only a younger brother could write, showing how, to this day, he still confronts the grief of losing his big brother, even as Duane continues to guide and inspire him.
Setting the record straight about the band's struggles in the face of death, Gregg shows how the decision to persevere came with a heavy price. While the rock and roll excesses of drugs, alcohol, and personality clashes led to a series of breakups that culminated with the band's permanent reunion in 1989, Gregg fought his own battle with substance abuse, going to rehab no less than eleven times and floating through a string of failed marriages, including his tabloid-frenzied relationship with Cher, before finally cleaning up once and for all.
Capturing the Allman Brothers' ongoing, triumphant resurgence as well as his own recent fight against hepatitis C and featuring over one hundred photos from throughout the band’s history, Gregg presents a story as honest as it is fascinating, providing a glimpse inside one of the most beloved and notorious bands in the history of rock music and demonstrating how, through it all, the road goes on . . . forever.
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