Duane and Gregg Allman grew up as competing siblings, with Duane’s fiery personality and virtuosic slide guitar work driving their early success. Touring with what would become a close-knit bunch of friends in various incarnations through the mid- to late 1960s, the whole bunch ended up in Macon as the Allman Brothers Band. With the 1969 release of their eponymous debut album, nothing in the rock world, or in Macon, for that matter, was ever the same.
The city is chock-full of Allman sites that have inspired pilgrimages for decades. The band had various residences, including 309 College Street and 315 College Street, which was on the cover of the band’s first album. The most famous was the “Big House,” a large Tudor rented by bassist Berry Oakley and his wife, Linda, and memorialized today in the Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House (2321 Vineville Ave., 478/741-5551, Thurs.-Sun. 11am-6pm, $8 adults, $4 children), which opened in 2010.
Alas, the Allmans heyday was short-lived. In October 1971 Duane perished in a motorcycle crash at Hillcrest Avenue and Bartlett Street. Barely a year later, Oakley died in another motorcycle crash at Napier and Inverness Avenues. Both were only 24. Both are buried side by side at Rose Hill Cemetery. At Rose Hill you can also see two gravesites that inspired Allman songs, “Little Martha” Ellis and Elizabeth Napier Reed. The Bond tomb at Rose Hill was on the back cover of the band’s debut record.
Not all is gloom and doom, however. Down the road from the Big House you can have the best fried chicken and collard greens for miles around at H & H Restaurant (807 Forsyth St., 478/742-9810, Mon.-Sat. 6:30am-4pm, $12), where the band frequently ate and which features much Allmans memorabilia.
While in Macon, the band’s label was Capricorn Record (535 D.T. Walton Sr. Way/Cotton Ave.), which, though now in other hands, still retains the old signage and exterior. The actual Capricorn studios were at 536 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard; that exterior can be seen on the Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East album.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Carolinas & Georgia.