"Look at this." Gregg Allman pulls up his long-sleeved Harley-Davidson T-shirt and reveals two long, pink scars running diagonally up his midsection just below the rib cage.
He’s sitting in a New York hotel room, less than five months after receiving a liver transplant, without which he would have died. The 63-year-old Allman is looking hale and hearty, his thick blond hair pulled back in a ponytail as he sips a cup of coffee.
“I’m happy to be here, that’s for sure,” he says. “And I have a sense of urgency to get stuff done, get out there and make some great music.”
Allman is gearing up not only for a year of touring with the Allman Brothers Band but also for solo dates in support of Low Country Blues, his first solo album in 14 years. Produced by T Bone Burnett, the collection features original takes on blues chestnuts and a haunting new original co-written with Warren Haynes.
“When Bone said he wanted me to come to Los Angeles and leave my band behind, I said, ‘Hell triple no,’ ” Allman recalls, with a laugh. “Then I realized maybe it was time to try something new, and I’m glad I did.”
Allman grooved on Burnett’s old-school recording approach, cutting live with everyone in the room, using upright bass and analog effects, like tape echo. And he was thrilled when he learned the house band would be anchored by old friends Dr. John (piano) and Doyle Bramhall II (guitar). “Me and Bone got along from here to the horizon,” Allman says.
The hardest part of his recovery, he says, was taking four months off the road. “That was the longest I went without performing since I was 16,” Allman relates. “I am fiercely devoted to my music, and I’ve got a lot of gypsy in my blood, so I’ve never minded the road. I just love to play, man.”