May 27 (UPI) – Gregg Allman, a rock ‘n’ roll pioneer whose raspy voice and rollicking guitar helped define music in the 1970s, died Saturday after a long illness, his manager confirmed. He was 69.

Allman was one half of the namesake Allman Brothers Band, founded with his older brother Duane, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1971 just as the group rose to stardom.

The 1972 classic “Ain’t Wastin’ No More Time” was Allman’s tribute to his late brother. The band’s other hits included the mournful ballad “Melissa,” the blues soaked “Whipping Post” and a rock classic, “Ramblin’ Man.” Their 1974 album Brothers and Sisters went No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for five weeks, though none of the band’s individual songs ever hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

As a solo artist, Allman also released the hit “Midnight Rider.”

Allman’s long blond hair and cool demeanor belied a musical career and personal life that was rife with tragedy, drama and addiction. A year after Duane Allman’s death, the band suffered another tragic loss when bassist Berry Oakley died in an eerily similar fashion.

After two decades of personal rivalries, departures and break-ups ensued. Allman and founding guitarist Dicky Betts feuded for years over control of the band, leading to the first of several break-ups in 1976. Allman fell into the depths of alcoholism and heroin additcion and went through a string of marriages, most notably to pop star Cher from 1975-79.

The Allman Brothers Band experienced a revival in the mid-1990s and resumed touring with a revamped lineup, though Betts was eventually fired in 2000. Their annual springtime concert run of three weeks at New York’s Beacon Theatre served as the linchpin to what was remained a commercially formidable road show.

The Nashville native’s unique sound borrowed from many schools of modern music. The Southern guitar riffs were part British Invasion, part jam band and part country twang. His vocals recalled the roots of blues and soul.

The Allman Brothers Band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. Allman credited his first long stretch of sobriety on rewatching his incoherent performance at the event.

After years battling drug addiction, Allman was diagnosed with Hepatitis-C in 1999 and received a liver transplant in 2000.

According to a statement posted on his website, Allman had suffered numerous health issues in his later years, though he maintained an occasional touring schedule with the band until their retirement in 2014.

Reports surfaced last month Allman was in hospice care.

“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,” the statement said.

Michael Lehmen, his longtime manager, said Allman was a true rock genius.

“I have lost a dear friend and the world has lost a brilliant pioneer in music. He was a kind and gentle soul with the best laugh I ever heard. His love for his family and bandmates was passionate as was the love he had for his extraordinary fans. Gregg was an incredible partner and an even better friend. We will all miss him.”

Allman was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.



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