Allman Brothers Manager Bert Holman Talks Band Archives in Wake of Gregg Allman's Death: 'There's a Great Deal of Material'
He may be gone, but we have not heard the last of Gregg Allman, who passed away on Saturday (May 27).
For starters, the album Allman was working on with producer Don Was will come out this fall, likely in September, with more details on that expected soon. And The Allman Brothers Band's archives still have plenty to yield via the group's own label and RED distribution, according to band manager Bert Holman.
"We'll keep putting things out as long as there's an appetite for it," Holman, the Allmans' manager during the early '80s and since 1991, tells Billboard. "There's a great deal of material [left], and still a lot of interest in hearing these things, we think. We're working on other stuff right now in the creative pipeline."
Allman Brothers Records most recently released The Fox Box, a compilation from a three-night stand at the Fox theatre during 2004. A number of other releases are in motion, including the individual digital release of six 2003 shows from the Instant Live series, as well as a "best of 2003" four-disc set that Holman says will "cull the best songs and put together a mega-concert in terms of sequencing." Also on the near-term docket is a package featuring multiple shows by the original Allmans lineup at the Fillmore West in San Francisco.
A number of other projects are now being considered for release. Among those are a July 19, 2005 concert at the Warner Theatre in Earie, Pa., that like the Grateful Dead's 1977 Cornell University show, is considered by Allmans aficionados to be one of the best the group ever played. A "ferocious" late-period show in Fresno, Calif., before a small (2,000 people) crowd may be dusted off, and Holman is hoping to put the Allmans' final concert, from Oct. 28, 2014 at New York's Beacon Theatre, out in physical form.
The organization also plans to release something from guitarist Jack Pearson's tenure (1997-1999) with the group. "We're trying to figure out which (show) to put out," Holman says. "We'll ask Jack for his memory, any nights that stood out in his mind as a player."
Holman says the Allmans' archival decisions are made "by committee," including veteran music industry executive Bill Levenson. Former Allmans guitarist Warren Haynes also takes an active role in the process. "Warren is very involved in terms of track selection and reviewing performances," Holman says. "Warren has an encyclopedic mind about shows, certain song performances. He makes sure we get things right."
The Allmans organization will also continue to curate the group's museum in the band's former Big House headquarters in Macon, Ga. It recently acquired the house next door, which has allowed it to move offices and use the Big House's third floor as exhibition space.
"More stuff keeps showing up, a lot of memorabilia and other stuff," Holman says. "They recently found one of [drummer] Jaimoe's conga cases from the back of the Fillmore album in a building in downtown Macon where the old Macon Recording Studios were. Who knows how it ended up there. So that's in the museum. And as the audience is aging, people are loaning and donating all kinds of stuff to us. Every time somebody comes to the museum they're like, 'I have a button you don't have. I have a poster you don't have.' Well, we'd love a picture of it, and if you'd like to donate it, all the better."
Funeral arrangements for Allman are currently being determined by his family in Macon, but Holman predicts that "whatever it is, it's going to be very quiet and very private. I think that's what Gregg wanted. He didn't want a spectacle. During the last months of his illness he really wanted privacy. He had been deteriorating for a while; He just kept it private. He didn't want people calling, didn't want to see stuff on TV. He wanted dignity, and fortunately he was able to do that. I think it's great he died peacefully at home rather than hooked up in a hospital room with tubes, listening to that high-pitched beep, beep, beep."
Holman also counters any sentiment that Allman tried to come back too soon after his liver transplant in 2010 and worked more than he should given his subsequent health conditions. "He maybe came back too soon, by his own admission, but Gregg lived for the music," Holman explains. "That's the only thing he really loved. Playing in his bedroom is not what he means by playing; He wants to play with a band and in front of an audience. He just loved to play, so of course that's what he would do."