May 28, 2017, - 10:03 pm

Gregg Allman & Chris Cornell RIP: Talented Artists Who Lived Hard, Died Hard – My Favorite Songs of Theirs

By Debbie Schlussel

Two of my favorite singers, Gregg Allman and Chris Cornell, died over the last ten days. They are both stark examples of talented artists who also lived too hard and then died hard.

Both were addicts and had messy lives.

Cornell, of Soundgarden and Audioslave fame, committed suicide at age 52, but he had a life of severe, multiple addictions. And even recovering addicts often have messed up minds. Why else would he commit the most selfish act possible, especially for a married father of kids? While there are worse fates than hanging one’s self in a hotel room in Detroit, it’s a pretty dark ending. It’s trite but perhaps true that it takes a tortured mind to produce some of the kind of work he did.

My favorite Soundgarden/Cornell song is “Fell on Black Days.” I’ve posted it on this site before, and it’s part of my workout music. It’s posted below. Although I mostly loathe the “grunge,” Seattle scene kind of music, that song is my kind of rock, as is some of Cornell’s other Soundgarden stuff. Written by Cornell, the lyrics of Fell on Black Days now seem darker and, sadly, kind of prophetic about his untimely end. His funeral was Friday.

Fell on Black Days . . .

I also like this live semi-acoustic version from the Kevin & Bean Show on KROQ-FM . . .

Allman also led a hard life. He died yesterday at age 69. That’s still relatively young. And he died of liver cancer, after getting a liver transplant, which could have been avoided. He, too, had multiple, repeat addictions throughout his life. He was addicted to heroin and other substances and was in rehab 11 times. He was also divorced six times, married seven times, and had five children with five different women. (There is no way he was able to be an adequate father to five different families. Not possible. So, those kids are probably all messed up.) On top of that, he contracted hepatitis C from a dirty tattoo needle. He also turned stoolie to avoid jail time and testified against his road manager, who was later sentenced to 75 years in prison for narcotics distribution. None of that “ride or die” stuff is admirable or conducive to a long and healthy life. His life was hard from the start, though, as his father was murdered by a hitchhiker when Allman was only two years old.

Allman’s rough and tumble life can be heard in his music, and it exudes from the Southern rock sound he created. You may not know this, but Allman told CBS News that he was accepted into medical school with plans to become a “dental surgeon.” His brother, Duane Allman, convinced him to go on the road for a little bit, just to try it. But, soon, he was so broke that he couldn’t afford to go back to school. His politics weren’t great–he was a Jimmy Carter guy.

My two favorite Allman Brothers songs, “Midnight Rider” and “Ramblin’ Man,” were hits when I was very little, but the bluesy rhythm always appealed to me (and both songs are also part of my workout music). I liked Allman’s husky voice, and I love the Midnight Rider mood–an apparent outlaw who is desperate (down to his last silver dollar) and on the run with nothing of his own. That’s also my kind of rock. Allman supposedly wrote Midnight Rider, but the lyrics credits only bear the name of bandmate Dickie Betts.

Midnight Rider . . .

Ramblin’ Man . . .

Their lifestyles weren’t the kind that make America great. But their music was. At least, if you are from my generation.

Gregg Allman and Chris Cornell Rest In Peace.

From the late ’80s, Gregg Allman – I’m No Angel . . .

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9 Responses

Suiciders are seriously effed up. But Allman was married to Cher, so I understand.

DS_ROCKS! on May 29, 2017 at 1:58 am

    Phil Lipofsky,

    Duane Allman did not play guitar on Ain’t Wasting Time No More; he was dead by then. In fact, the lead guitar on all of the songs on that particular side of Eat a Peach (Ain’t Wasting Time No More, Les Brers in A Minor and Melissa) are Dicky Betts only. Duane’s guitar was of course all throughout Mountain Jam, and the last side of Eat a Peace (including Blue Sky), but it wasn’t on the side of the album you referred to.

    PR on June 7, 2017 at 10:29 pm

    You don’t know what you are talking about – Gregg Allman died peacefully, at home from a recurrence of liver cancer. He didn’t commit suicide – in fact, he was clean, happy and at peace with his life after years of drug abuse and alcoholism. Get your facts straight and don’t slander a dead man who cannot defend himself from stupid posts like yours.

    PR on June 7, 2017 at 10:31 pm

Off Topic, but I wish all the Jews on this website a happy, healthy, kosher Shavuout.

Miranda Rose Smith on May 29, 2017 at 8:19 am

Personal favorites:

YouTube “Dreams” “March 25 & 26, 2003 – Live at the Beacon Theatre…and with an unforgettable guitar solo of Derek Trucks…”

I have flag set for Trucks on politics, but the music is great.

The original Duane Allman “Ain’t Waste’n Time no More”

Phil Lipofsky on May 29, 2017 at 10:13 am

Suiciders are seriously effed up. But Allman was married to Cher, so I understand.

DS_ROCKS! on May 29, 2017 at 1:58 am

Uncalled for.

Miranda Rose Smith on May 29, 2017 at 10:48 am

I was thinking the same thing about Allman as I had about Natalie Cole when she died – given how they abused their bodies the way they did (she too did heroin throughout her ’70’s peak), it’s a wonder they lived as long as they did.

“Midnight Rider” sounded to my ears a bit similar in some areas, musically, to Grand Funk Railroad’s “Closer To Home (I’m Your Captain),” so much so I’m surprised (to the best of my knowledge) that group didn’t cover it (the late Joe Cocker, who also lived hard and died somewhat hard, did put his own stamp on it, though). I agree about “Ramblin’ Man,” in fact I have the 45 of that as well as an edited version of the instrumental “Jessica” and an early 45 release of “Melissa” (as the B side to “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More”).

As for Allman’s support of Jimmy Carter – I.I.N.M., Phil Walden who ran Capricorn Records for which the Allmans recorded, was a major contributor to Carter’s 1976 campaign.

Concerned Patriot on May 29, 2017 at 12:51 pm

There is a great version of “Stormy Monday” by the Allman Brothers that’s probably the best thing they ever did. It’s 10 minutes and 40 seconds from a live performance at a smaller venue. I downloaded it from Limewire years ago. It’s an old T Bone Walker song that’s been covered by many artists but this is absolutely awesome. I don’t know if it’s before or after Duane’s death.

bill craig on May 29, 2017 at 4:03 pm

Was lucky to see Gregg in concert late last year (’16) at the Tennessee Theater, with Jaimoe and his band. Not a great singer anymore, but adequate still, and the songs brought back lots of good memories. The Allman Brothers Band literally died when Duane died on his motorcycle; some songs thereafter, like “Ramblin’ Man,” were great (Dickie Betts and his red guitar – also a fine talent), but most were just a pale shade of the band’s earlier songs. Quite possibly the greatest slide guitar player who ever lived; “Layla” by Derek & the Dominoes (2 record set) is one of the finest recordings ever made, and a hell of a display of Duane’s (and Eric Clapton’s) talents with the axe.

jc15 on July 1, 2017 at 7:49 pm

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