Gregg Allman, the singer, musician and songwriter who played an essential role in the invention of Southern rock, has died at the age of 69. Allman’s rep confirmed to Rolling Stone that the artist died Saturday afternoon. Allman “passed away peacefully at his home in Savannah, Georgia,” a statement on the singer’s website read Saturday. “Gregg struggled with many health issues over the past several years. During that time, Gregg considered being on the road playing music with his brothers and solo band for his beloved fans, essential medicine for his soul. Playing music lifted him up and kept him going during the toughest of times.” He is best known for performing in the Allman Brothers Band. He was born and spent much of his childhood in Nashville, Tennessee, before relocating to Daytona Beach, Florida. He and his brother, Duane Allman, developed an interest in music in their teens, and began performing in the Allman Joys in the mid-1960s. In 1967, they relocated to Los Angeles and were renamed the Hour Glass, releasing two albums for Liberty Records. In 1969, he and Duane regrouped to form the Allman Brothers Band, which settled in Macon, Georgia.
The Allman Brothers Band began to reach mainstream success by the early 1970s, with their live album At Fillmore East representing a commercial and artistic breakthrough. Shortly thereafter, Duane was killed in a motorcycle crash in 1971. The following year, the band’s bassist, Berry Oakley was also killed in a motorcycle accident very close to the location of Duane’s wreck. Their 1973 album Brothers and Sisters became their biggest hit, and Allman pursued a solo career afterward, releasing his debut album, Laid Back the same year. Internal turmoil took over the group, leading to a 1975 breakup. Allman was married to pop star Cher for the rest of the decade, while he continued his solo career with the Gregg Allman Band. After a brief Allman Brothers reunion and a decade of little activity, he reached an unexpected peak with the hit single “I’m No Angel” in 1987. After two more solo albums, the Allman Brothers reformed for a third and final time in 1989, and continued performing until 2014. He released his most recent solo album, Low Country Blues, in 2011, and his next, Southern Blood, is set to be released in 2017.
For his work in music, Allman was referred to as a Southern rock pioneer and received numerous awards, including several Grammys; he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. His distinctive voice placed him in 70th place in the Rolling Stone list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”. Allman released an autobiography, My Cross to Bear, in 2012. In 2016, Allman was forced to cancel his summer tour due to unspecified “serious health problems.” After briefly returning to the stage – Allman’s last concert was at his 2016 Laid Back Festival in Atlanta – and scheduling a winter tour, Allman again canceled the dates, citing a vocal injury. Allman’s partners included Shelley Kay Winters, Janice Blair, Cher, Julie Bindas, Ganielle J. P. Galiana, and Stacey Fountain and had 5 children.