Gregg Allman, rock music pioneer, dies at 69

Gregg Allman performs during Mercer University's Commencement Saturday in Macon, GA in May 2016. Picture: Jason Vorhees/Macon Telegraph via AP
Gregg Allman performs during Mercer University's Commencement Saturday in Macon, GA in May 2016. Picture: Jason Vorhees/Macon Telegraph via AP
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Gregg Allman, the rock trailblazer and founder member of The Allman Brothers Band, has died at the age of 69.

Allman, whose bluesy vocals and Hammond organ skills helped the band pioneer Southern rock, died on Saturday, according to his manager Michael Lehman.

Lehman added that Allman had died peacefully and surrounded by loved ones at his home near Savannah, in Georgia. It is understood the father-of-five had been suffering from cancer.

“It’s a result of his reoccurrence of liver cancer that had come back five years ago,” Lehman said in an interview. “He kept it very private because he wanted to continue to play music until he couldn’t.”

Allman performed his last concert in October as health problems forced him to cancel other 2016 shows. He announced in August that he was ‘under his doctor’s care at the Mayo Clinic’ due to ‘serious health issues.

Later that year, he cancelled more dates, citing a throat injury. In March, he cancelled performances for the rest of 2017.

Lehman said Allman would be buried alongside his late brother Duane, at Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, where the band got its start nearly five decades ago.

“He’ll be laid next to his brother, Duane,” Lehman added. “That’s in his wishes.”

Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Allamn was raised in Florida by a single mother.

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Gregg Allman, left, with brother Duane in October 1970. Picture: Getty Images

Gregg Allman, left, with brother Duane in October 1970. Picture: Getty Images

He idolised his older brother Duane, eventually joining a series of bands with him. Together they formed the nucleus of The Allman Brothers Band.

In his 2012 memoir, My Cross to Bear, Allman said he spent years overindulging in women, drugs and alcohol before getting sober in the mid-1990s.

He said that after getting sober, he felt “brand new” at the age of 50.

“I never believed in God until this,” he said in an interview with in 1998. “I asked him to bring me out of this or let me die before all the innings have been played. Now I have started taking on some spiritualism.”

However, after all the years of unhealthy living he ended up with hepatitis C which severely damaged his liver. He underwent a liver transplant in 2010.

The statement on Allman’s website says that as he faced health problems, “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.”

After the surgery, he turned music to help him recover and released his first solo album in 14 years “Low Country Blues” in 2011.

“I think it’s because you’re doing something you love,” Allman said in 2011. “I think it just creates a diversion from the pain itself. You’ve been swallowed up by something you love, you know, and you’re just totally engulfed.”

The band was honoured with a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2012.