For famed keyboardist Chuck Leavell, the passing of Gregg Allman of The Allman Brothers Band on Saturday (May 27) at the age of 69 was like losing "not only a friend and brother, but a strong inspiration to me very early on in my career," as he posted in a touching Facebook tribute.
Leavell recalls seeing one of Gregg Allman's early gigs with the Allman Joys when he was only 13 years old at the Fort Brandon Armory in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Even back then, Allman "mesmerized [him] with his talent … that incredible voice, his understated yet strong stage presence."
While Leavell would eventually go on to play with the likes of George Harrison, Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones (who he's played with for decades), it was Gregg Allman in 1971 who was the first major rock star to ask him to join his band. "It was the dream offer of a lifetime," Leavell wrote.
Of all the albums Leavell has played on, he noted that Gregg Allman's Laid Back and The Allman Brothers Band's Brothers and Sisters "are probably the two records that I am most proud to have my name on."
He ended his post with a poignant farewell: "You will always be my hero and I am your biggest fan," he wrote. "Rest easy, my Brother."