About five years ago, Gregg Allman called and said that he envisioned retirement. He talked of spending time in his Savannah home and taking a permanent vacation from the road.
When Allman, 66, had liver transplant surgery in 2010, it appeared that he was about to sing his swan song.
“I was thinking that maybe this was it, months after I had the surgery,” Allman said during a call from Savannah. “I had no energy, no zip, no nothing from after the surgery and for a long time after that. I felt sick, but I did a lot of praying. I might have talked about not playing out anymore, but I didn’t want that.”
Allman, who has had chronic health trouble in recent years, asked for a miracle and one apparently was granted over Christmastime last year.
“It all happened Dec. 23 of 2012,” Allman said. “I felt something change. After I felt good again, I did two tours with the (Allman) Brothers and three with my band.”
“I’m back and it feels good,” Allman said. “I’m feeling like a new man. and I think I’m playing like it ,too.”
Allman will deliver the hits, deep cuts and whatever he’s in the mood for when he performs Tuesday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, “I’m just having fun,” Allman said. “I never thought I would feel this way again, say two years ago. This is really something.”
Allman is crazy busy in 2014. He plans to tour with the Allman Brothers and he would like to release a pair of new albums.
“I’m going to do a country blues album with (producer) T-Bone Burnett,” Allman said. “I have my sights on that, and I want to make an album at Muscle Shoals. I can’t believe I’ve never made an album there after all of these years. It’ll be two distinct albums that I’ll make. They’ll be pretty different. I’ll be busy in 2014. You can bet on that. I’m looking forward to making some new solo music, and I can’t wait to get back with the Brothers.”
Allman wishes he had stayed straight during the early and middle days of the Allman Brothers, since the legendary act was rudderless much of the time he sang and played keyboards with the group when he was a young man.
“We had no leadership after my brother (Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1971),” Allman said. “I was pretty intoxicated during those days. Later on things worked out, but the earlier days, well, I’m just glad we survived that period.”
Part of the problem was Allman dealing with the loss of a brother, regarded as one of the greatest rock guitarists who ever lived.
“It was rough,” Allman said.
Much of Allman’s life has been difficult. He lost his brother, battled addiction, went through divorces — some celebrated (Cher). But through it all, Allman has stayed a consistently strong Southern rocker.
“What else could I do?” Allman said. “This is my passion. I can’t think of anything I love more than this. I might have thought about retirement, but when push comes to shove, this is what I do. I can do without the travel, but I love getting up on stage. I’m not paid for that. I’m paid for traveling and staying in my hotel room.”
Allman appreciates making music and touring more now than ever. “There’s no doubt about that,” Allman said. “It felt like it was all slipping away, and I didn’t like that. I love living in Georgia. It’s beautiful. It’s comfortable, but me sitting home full-time, well, that can wait.”