I fell in love with the Allman Brothers when I bought their album, At Fillmore East. Here was a jam band with two drummers, playing some of the best southern rock I have ever heard. I actually saw them live at the Coliseum in Madison, WI, when I was still in high school. Live, on stage, was almost too much for me to handle. It remains to this day, one of my all-time favorite concerts.
Once I moved to Savannah, Georgia, I knew it was only a matter of time before I would find my way to Macon. My sister Kathy and I took off for a two day adventure in February of 2018. Perfect weather with warm sunny days, and cool nights. As soon as we checked into our hotel, we headed off to the Allman Brother’s Big House and Museum at 2321 Vineville Avenue. The band lived there from 1970 to 1973.
The Big House now holds all their stage gear, posters, clothing, guitars, furniture and scores of framed pictures of the band and their many awards and accolades. They have even recreated Duane Allman bedroom to it’s original state, lovingly guided by Duane’s daughter, Galadrielle.
One of the many spacious rooms holds the “Gregg and Cher” pool table, which is now covered with glass displaying candid pictures of the couple, and loads more memorabilia. Scattered throughout the house are letters written home from Duane, who tragically died in a motorcycle accident at the age of 24 in 1971.
Bassist Berry Oakley’s bedroom has also been recreated, and he died in a motorcycle accident on the same road as Duane’s accident, just a little over one year later. Now they both lay side by side in the Rosehill Cemetery, covered in white marble and surrounded by a black fence. Gregg was laid to rest on the left of his brother and Berry, and will soon have a black granite headstone.
Rosehill Cemetery, established in 1840, and spans over 50 acres, is where the Allman Brothers spent a lot of their time writing music. Some of their songs are about real people whose graves inspired hits like “Little Martha,” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.”
Every square inch of the house has something to look at, and you are free to explore both floors for as long as you like. One storage room held a row of Anvil cases, each filled with hotel room keys, backstage passes, and various other trinkets from the road.
An extremely helpful gentleman named Rex, who works at the gift shop at the Big House took us on a tour of Macon, showing us the many places the band lived in and more sites where they shot album covers. Macon’s rich musical background includes Little Richard, Otis Redding, Boz Scaggs, Jason Aldean and the once powerful Capricorn Records.
Rex shared with us a story that came from the cleaning crew at the Big House. It seems just months after Gregg Allman passed, the man cleaning upstairs one night felt a tap on his shoulder and turned around to see Gregg standing there. While at the cemetery, we ran into Gregg’s best friend, Chank Middleton, who was quite intrigued by this story. Chank met Gregg back in 1969, when the band first moved to Macon. They remained friends until Gregg passed in November of 2017.
With all the history, the musical instruments, the personal belongings and the energy of the band’s music, The Allman Brothers can be felt in that house. I’ll bet late at night, when everything is very quiet, you can still hear their music.