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  • Writer Login


    The Allman Brothers Band Museum

    by | 1 | May 27, 2010

    There’s still a whiff of weed in the Casbah Room.

    It’s one of a couple of rooms at The Big House that are furnished much as they were in the early ’70s, when members of the Allman Brothers Band lived here and were at their musical peak.

    The Tudor-style house near downtown Macon, now home of The Allman Brothers Band Museum (www.thebighousemuseum.org), is full of guitars, Gregg Allman’s organ, photos — including a life-size shot of the band during a legendary Fillmore East performance — and tons of other memorabilia.

    Handwritten lyrics to “Blue Sky” hang in the sunny room where Dickey Betts wrote it. Concert DVDs play on flatscreen TVs. A reel-to-reel copy of “Eat A Peach” is displayed near a Japanese 45 of “Louisiana Lou and Three Card Monty John.”

    The Casbah Room

    The museum offers little in the way of narrative, but the volume of items is astounding and the presentation is clean. All facets of the band’s history are represented, and longtime fans won’t have trouble finding the things that interest them most.

    Copies of obscure — bootleg? — tapes and CDs fill one shelf. (All a staff member would say was that they were never “officially” released, then she encouraged a visit to the gift shop; they weren’t available there, either.)

    On the morning of the museum’s spring ribbon cutting, Bill Snow stopped by to complete a transaction begun almost 40 years ago. In fall 1971, Duane Allman ordered two gold mushroom necklaces from Snow. Originally, six were made — one for each band member. Duane wanted two more, Snow said.

    He died in a motorcycle crash a week later; Snow never got a chance to deliver them.

    Now, he was dropping one off. The museum staff immediately added it to a display, hanging it around the collar of a shirt made for Duane by Linda Oakley, wife of bassist Berry Oakley.

    Upstairs, there are family snapshots, a room full of LPs, another full of concert posters and ticket stubs, and Duane’s bedroom. The paperback copy of “Lord of the Rings” on the mantle is a nice touch; he loved the series.

    And in the back there’s Oakley’s Casbah Room.

    A comfortable couch and pillows.

    A stereo lined with blues albums.

    And a hookah tucked in the corner.

    And since you’re there …

    • For the diehard fan: The archivist at the Washington Memorial Library (www.co.bibb.ga.us/library) says it used to be easy to spot an Allman Brothers fan. Now, they come in wearing not only tie-dye, but three-piece suits, to research the library’s extensive collection on group.

    In fact, you could spend an afternoon just reading the catalog. It’s a trip seeing the array of headlines and photos from myriad newspapers, the late Great Speckled Bird, Creem and a multitude of other publications.

    Duane Allman's shirt, pin, other memorabilia.

    Don’t ask for the accident reports on the fatal crashes of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley, however. Somebody swiped them.

    • For the hungry fan: H&H Restaurant (mamalouise.com) cooks ridiculously good soul food — my mother makes great lima beans, but theirs are better, and I’ve told her so. The band ate there in the early days when it couldn’t always pay, and the favor is still being returned. Many days it’s slammed with Allman fans.

    The prices are less expensive than a lot of fast food, but don’t go here if you’re in a hurry. Wait times can be erratic. Instead, enjoy the jukebox loaded with great Southern music, and check out the band photos that line the walls.

    • If you still want more, The Georgia Allman Brothers Band Association website (www.gabba.org) is loaded with links and information. Particularly helpful is the “footsteps map” that pinpoints significant Macon sites, including Capricorn Records and Rose Hill cemetery, where Allman and Oakley are buried.

    The graves are so popular, in fact, that there’s now a fence around them. For good reason.

    The archivist at Washington Memorial says one fan told her he was conceived on Allman’s grave.

    That’s why he’s named Duane, too.

    All photos by Pam Prouty.

    Allman Brothers at Fillmore East display.

    Items from The Hourglass, an early Allman band.


    ###

    Alan Gordon

    Alan Gordon is a veteran journalist.

     

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    • jingle

      great piece, alan. now it’s imperative that frank and i visit the brothers’ museum. how’re you and pam? both retired from the ajc? we’re in athens where i babysit for two young and very energetic grandsons every day. miss you both; wish you’d come visit. we have a guestroom and athens has lots of neat places to visit, as i’m sure you remember.

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