Southern rock fans are in mourning today as news broke that Gregg Allman of The Allman Brothers Band has died — the rock legend was 69 years old. According to Variety, the cause of death is currently unknown, but the publication reported that as recently as April 24, reports had been circulating that Allman was in hospice. (His manager had denied those claims.) Rolling Stone reported that a statement from Allman's manager noted that the singer "passed away peacefully" in his Savannah, Georgia, home.
Allman's name is synonymous with rock — southern rock, to be exact. According to the Rolling Stone article, Allman thought the term "southern rock" was redundant, but he's considered a pioneer in the genre. Allman formed The Allman Brothers Band in 1969 with his brother, Duane Allman, whom ABC reported Gregg looked to as a "central figure" in his life. Their self-debut album was released in 1969, but it wasn't until 1971 that The Allman Brothers Band hit stardom with the release of their live album, At Fillmore East. According to ABC, a few months after they finished recording the Fillmore album, Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident. A year later, the bassist Berry Oakley, died in a motorcycle accident, too.
Despite the tragic start to his success, Allman and The Allman Brothers Band truly paved away for some of the greatest rock groups and musicians of our time. Billboard reported that The Allman Brothers Band charted 25 albums over 34 years, with four top 10 sets and topping the list once with their album Brothers and Sisters in 1973 — the album reached number one for five weeks. Some of their classic hits include "Ramblin Man," "Midnight Rider," and "Whipping Post." According to ABC, the band's success helped open doors for other southern rock legends like Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Marshall Tucker Band.
According to Rolling Stone, The Allman Brothers Band did experience some bumps in their music career. After the death of two members and "the group's collective appetites for narcotics," Rolling Stone noted the band split up, re-emerging in the late 1980s after Allman found success as a solo artist.
Allman also hit the spotlight with his marriage to pop icon Cher. ABC reported that three days after Cher had divorced Sonny Bono in 1975, Cher and Allman were married. Their marriage was "tumultuous from the start" and just nine days after they said "I do" in Vegas, Cher filed for divorce. She dismissed the suit a month later, but their marriage still didn't last. After recording a duet album, Allman and Woman, and having a child, Elijah Blue, Cher filed for legal separation in 1977.
Allman's life seems to have followed the "rock star" story that so many people in the entertainment business talk about — tragedy, drugs, and a lot of rock and roll. But Allman was more than just a story — he was a legend. His talent, his music, and his passion paved the way for an entire genre and he will be sorely missed. Lord, he was born a ramblin' man.