Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man,
Tryin’ to make a livin’ and doin’ the best I can. – Ramblin’ Man, 1973)
American music lost another icon. Tonight I read that Gregg Allman, a founder of the Allman Brothers Band, died today at age 69. By the time my musical taste broadened from the British Invasion, Beatles Rolling Stones, Elton John, the Who to Southern Rock, I was 18 and enlisted a year in the Navy. My barracks room -mate, Ferdinand W, was another enlisted Navy technician, a few years my senior at the training command, Great Lakes. In the early morning hours, he would be returning from liberty (we had a rotating duty schedule and class) and usually wasted (very drunk). He wrecked his sportscar, on base, on one of those binges. But I remember him mostly for the southern Rock he listened to, and the squeeze box (concertina) he would play along. A broken ankle from the car accident kept his partying subdued- and the while the Navy was investigating the incident.
When I was given orders to the cryptologic maintenance school at Fort Gordon, Georgia in 1978, I had gained a little exposure to Southern rock- music of Lynrd Skynrd, the Allman Brothers, Molly Hatchet, and Marshall Tucker Band. About the time that the Navy students in my class were earning top marks, which gave us some early liberty ( we attended an evening schedule of classes) several of us found a small club in nearby Athens, Georgia that must have been named for the Allman Brothers’ song, the Whippin’ Post. Many live bands played there. I remember one Saturday night, whether a cover band – or the actual Lynrd Skynrd (I don’t recall) played there. One guy kept screaming “FREE BIRD!!” In forty years, I forgot about those times when you could sit in a club twenty feet from bands that defined a rock era, and then next weekend do it all again. But history dims with time. I read a report from 2013 that the long-closed club was torn down.