One night Gregg Allman came into Elaine’s. It was late, and the restaurant was pretty empty. He came in with a lady friend, said hello to Gianni, the head waiter, and walked to the back. Gianna put them at a table sort of nowhere, kind of hidden. I watched this from where I was having dinner with Elaine Kaufman, the famous owner and raconteur and hostess, as if it were happening in slow motion. Hundreds of celebrities had come to Elaine’s. But this seemed like an apparition.
I said to Elaine, “Oh my god, is that really Gregg Allman?” She nodded. “Whaddaya think? Of course it is. He’s been here before. No big deal.”
Really? Gregg Allman is a rock god. I have listened to “Jessica” and “Whipping Post” and “Live at Fillmore East” my whole life. He is an icon, with pink skin and white hair and a pony tail. He was in town for one of those annual 10 day gigs at the Beacon Theater.
“Go say hello to him,” Elaine said, because she always said that. I met a lot of people with the words, “Elaine says hi. She sent me over.” I’m already sitting down now, staring at Gregg Allman. What do I remember now? I thanked him for “Melissa” and “Blue Sky” and “Midnight Rider.” I did not tell him how many speeding tickets I’ve almost gotten listening to “Jessica.” I was cool, don’t worry. He was very nice. We talked about the tour. I didn’t ask about Cher or his late brother Duane or anything else.
I knew a few weeks ago when Cher said she had a family problem and couldn’t go shoot a movie, it was Gregg–father of her son Elijah Blue– who was ill. Everyone else said it was the mother. But Allman had cancelled all his 2017 shows. It was known that he was pretty sick. The end was near.
The Allman Brothers Band is far more important in rock history than given credit for. The music, the songwriting, the structure of it. The Allman Brothers surprise you still when you listen to them. It’s part big band, part swing, jug band, Texas blues. So original and so American. It’s the creme de la creme of what is called Southern Rock, and so much more. What a legacy. If I met Gregg Allman again, I couldn’t say thank you enough times.