When Gregg Allman died at 69 on May 27th, it was truly the end of an era. The Allman Brothers Band had played their last show in October, 2014, and had moved on to begin the next chapter of their lives. Derek Trucks would devote his energies to the Tedeschi Trucks Band, a highly successful project founded by Trucks and his wife, Susan Tedeschi. Warren Haynes would have more time to concentrate on his many endeavors including his band Gov’t Mule, and a solo project, Ashes & Dust featuring Railroad Earth.
For Gregg Allman, there would time to devote all his efforts towards his solo career. His desire to perform was strong, as was his hunger to work on a new solo album. In August of 2015 he released Gregg Allman live: Back to Macon, GA on Rounder Records which featured his eight piece band. In 2016, Allman’s health began to become a factor more and more in performing decisions, and impacted mightily on the his efforts to record his Southern Blood album.
As time went on, it became more important for Allman to get the work done on what would be, in the end, his final musical statement. He used his touring band along with guests that include his friend Jackson Browne. Produced by Don Was, Southern Blood is due out on September 8th, on Rounder Records. “My Only True Friend” is the first track to be released from the album.
Recorded at the renown Muscle Shoals, Alabama studio Fame, the album’s tracks embrace covers and originals. Due to his declining health, Allman would work as he could. Michael LeMan, Allman’s manager told Variety “We documented a lot of the recording sessions, so we have a tremendous amount of video footage and still photography from the sessions.”
For a musician who spent a majority of his life touring in one form or another, knowing his time was short and his journey was coming to an end loomed large, but Allman was not a man to have others take pity on him. “My Only True Friend” is a deep, deliberate and thoughtful piece of music, resplendent in it’s understated grandeur, and it’s honesty rings true. At one point, Allman sings, “You and I both know, the road is my only true friend.” Allman lived to perform and loved being onstage performing for generations of fans. It was his fervent hope that he is not forgotten as time passes when he sings, “I hope you’re haunted by the music of my soul, when I’m gone.”