Gregg Allman, who passed away May 27 due to complications from liver cancer, spent the final months of his life at work on an album that he knew would be his final statement the world. And while the album, “Southern Blood,” due Sept. 8 on Rounder Records, is at times a haunting listen, it’s more often filled with gratitude and joy as it looks back on an eventful and colorful life.
It’s a combination of new originals and covers, including a duet with Allman’s friend of nearly 50 years, Jackson Browne, on “Song for Adam,” produced by Don Was (The Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt) and recorded at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where classic songs by Aretha Frankin, Wilson Pickett, the Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd and many others were recorded — and Allman’s bandmate and brother Duane, who died in 1971, had played on several sessions.
“He started recording [the album] probably a year to two years ago,” Allman’s longtime manager, Michael Lehman, told Variety shortly after the singer’s death. “His health at the time was okay, he was already struggling a little with the recurrence of his liver cancer. He would have good days and bad days and we worked around it as best we could. Some days were better than others but there were enough takes to make something really special. Gregg was so happy to be at such an iconic studio, where his brother had recorded and so much incredible music had been made over the years.
“We documented a lot of the recording sessions,” Lehman added, “so we have a tremendous amount of video footage and still photography from the sessions.” He noted that Allman listened to final mixes of the album on the night before his death.
On “My Only True Friend,” the first track to be released from “Southern Blood,” Allman sings “I hope you’re haunted by the music of my soul when I’m gone” — we’ll let him take it from there.