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Scott Sharrard, Gregg Allman's Longtime Guitarist, Talks New Album, 'Saving Grace'

Scott Sharrard with a Gibson Custom Shop CS-336

Scott Sharrard with a Gibson Custom Shop CS-336 (Image credit: Derek McCabe)

Scott Sharrard, the longtime guitarist and bandleader in Gregg Allman’s solo band, co-wrote the rock legend’s final two songs. “My Only True Friend” was the emotional core of Southern Blood, Allman’s moving 2017 swan song of an album, released posthumously a few months after his passing. They cut an instrumental track for the other tune, “Everything a Good Man Needs,” during those sessions — but Allman never recorded a vocal.

“We rehearsed it and recorded it in a few forms — acoustic demos and with the full band prior to the sessions,” Sharrard says. “He definitely told me he thought it was finished and good to go, but it’s too funky and too much fun to be on Southern Blood, which had a very distinct vibe and mission.”

“Everything a Good Man Needs” now sits at the center of Saving Grace, Sharrard’s fifth solo album, with a guest vocal by Taj Mahal and propulsive drumming by another icon, Bernard Purdie. Allman’s best friend, Chank Middleton, gave a demo of the song to Taj, who called Sharrard out of the blue and said, “I love the song you and Gregg co-wrote and I want to record it.”

Sharrard had already recorded most of Saving Grace, with two of the all-time great blues and soul bands — the Muscle Shoals Swampers and the Hi Rhythm Section in Memphis. He, Taj and Purdie convened in a New York studio to cut the swaggering, simmering “Everything a Good Man Needs,” with Sharrard’s slide guitar snaking over and around Purdie’s pulsing groove and Taj Mahal’s gravelly vocal. “That’s three generations of guys who love the blues right there,” Sharrard says.

The rest of the album puts a strong emphasis on Sharrard’s deep soul singing, but his guitar remains biting. For the five songs recorded at Muscle Shoals’ FAME Studios, he played Duane Allman’s 1957 Goldtop Les Paul. And so the road goes on.